Zeb Christensen: Screaming For Silence

Written by: Frank Iacono

zeb-christensen-header

Hard-hitting rock, heavy breakdowns, and an energetic live performance that never stops entertaining the crowd appropriately describes Zeb Christensen’s Omaha Nebraska-based band named Screaming For Silence. Over the last three years, they have toured nationally and played over four hundred live shows from coast to coast. With that, his band has continually captivated audiences across the nation, gaining new fans during each show at every stop.

During Screaming For Silence’s hectic 2013 touring schedule, they were rewarded with a sponsorship opportunity promoting PRS’s new line of S2 guitars. In 2014, they spent the year touring and recording their first full-length studio album. Their new material was recorded in North Hollywood, California at Grey Area Studios with producer Erik Ron, who has also worked with Motionless In White, We Came As Romans, and New Year’s Day.

With head banging guitar riffs, intense drums, and melodic hooks containing in your face lyrics the members of Screaming For Silence have created their own unique sound. The first single off their self-titled debut is aptly named “The King Is Crowned” garnered radio play across the country and peaked at #29 on Billboard’s Indicator chart. In May of 2015, they were selected by Ernie Ball as the Battle of the Bands for Rock On The Range winners. Having the right combination of talent, work ethic, and road experience they are poised to explode onto the rock scene in 2016.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Zeb Christensen, the lead vocalist of Screaming For Silence, and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his upcoming tour schedule, and his band’s new album Screaming For Silence.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?

I have always been into music. I’ll never forget the first rock concert I went to which was an outdoor festival. The sun was out and the music was loud I loved it! After seeing all of the energy and emotion that the bands were giving I told myself I wanted to do that! I’ve been inspired by so many musicians. Corey Taylor, Johnny Cash, and Eminem. I like everything; if it catches my ear I dig it.

5-25-2016 1-13-40 AM

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Zeb Christensen or Screaming For Silence, how would you describe your musical genre?

We are a five piece Hard Rock band from Omaha, NE. We have been touring nationally for about four years playing over 400 shows in that span. We released our first full length album in 2015 that is self-titled.

The Screaming For Silence band lineup consists of:

  • Zeb Christensen – Vocals
  • Danny Irwin – Guitar/Vocals
  • Casey Newsom – Guitar/Vocals
  • Matt Tatroe – Drums
  • Mike Friese – Bass Guitar

Screaming for Silence Band

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singer/songwriter and performer?

Our musical influences are really all over the board and I think that really helped shape us as a band. We all are kind of into different genres and that gives us a little different flavor.

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your self-titled full length album entitled Screaming For Silence. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

The whole experience was amazing. Getting to work with the guys and Erik Ron on the album was such a blast. My favorite part is getting to hear all the songs come to life from nothing and then all the way to the final product. It’s something we are very proud of and put a lot work and emotion into. I would say the most challenging part of the process is picking which songs go onto the album!

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of Screaming For Silence is the lead track called “The King Is Crowned,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept?

We knew after finishing the album that this was going to be the first single. It just had all of the elements. We wanted to make a killer video for it so we thought it would be cool to get our hometown of Omaha involved and film it at the Joslyn Castle. Aaron Gum and Tyler Yager really made this video come to life! We thought it was very fitting to film in a castle. There was a huge storm that day and our crowd still showed up in full force to be a part of it. We had a great response from it and got a lot of radio behind it. It ended up peaking at #29 on the Billboard Indicator Chart and #14 on the Under The Radar Chart. We really owe it to all of our fans that helped spread the word and would call and request!


TCS: How thrilling was it to have “The King Is Crowned” selected as the winner of the 2016 NAIRMA Award for Outstanding Song?

It was the one of my favorite moments as a band. Getting to be there in LA for the whole experience was just awesome. Rubbing elbows with people in bands we look up to and the whole environment was great. When they called our name we were in a little bit of shock I think haha. It just makes you feel like you are doing something right when someone gives you recognition.


TCS: Can you describe for us the background to the 2012 hit single entitled “Helpless” that appeared on your debut EP Relentless?

The song is about people who just can’t do anything for themselves. They are always throwing themselves a pity party and not doing anything to help the situation. People like that are really tough to deal with.


TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

We have always had the mind set of we will play anywhere at any time. It makes for a lot of interesting shows! In the end it has also made us who we are. We are so lucky to be able to play music and perform as much as we do!

TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

The only area of the country we haven’t hit is the Northwest. I can’t wait to get up there. I’d also really like to play The Machine Shop in Flint, MI. I feel like that venue has one of the best reputations in the country. I’d love to tour with Ke$ha.

TCS: Tell us about the Screaming For Silence song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Separate” which also appeared on the Relentless?

We actually worked with Justin Mccain of the band Through Fire from Omaha NE. He’s an amazing artist/songwriter and we were really young. He wanted to do a song together and I think we ended up doing the whole thing in a day. We hadn’t really done much recording at that time so it was awesome to get the experience with him and learn a lot.


TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

We have our own website Screamingforsilence.com and you can also find us on almost every social media outlet (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat etc.) Also all of our music is on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon and more!

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

I always try to plug bands that are up and coming like us. We just did a lot of touring with some bands that are killer like Guns Out At Sundown, Poynte, Sleep Signals. Also a lot of our good friends just released new music or are about to like Blameshift, 3 Pill Morning, and Another Lost Year.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Screaming For Silence?

This summer we are doing just mostly festival stuff. Rocklahoma, Rock Fest (Cadott,WI). I’m really looking forward to Locofest in Algona, IA and headlining a new festival in our hometown called The New Generation Music Festival. You can find all of those dates on our website. Then we are heading back to the studio in August to make a new album!

Song List on House of Glass (2017)

  1. House of Glass
  2. Long Way Up
  3. Beetlejuice
  4. Buried Alive
  5. Worth Fighting For

Song List on Screaming For Silence (2015)

Screaming for Silence

  1. Disgrace
  2. The King Is Crowned
  3. Varsity Blues
  4. Hero to Zero
  5. Cutting Ties
  6. No Way Out
  7. Calling Your Bluff
  8. Infested
  9. Don’t Give In
  10. Fly Away

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

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Tony Trujillo: Beyond Today

Written by: Frank Iacono

Beyond-Today-Tony-Trujillo

Beyond Today, a hard rock band, started with Guy Johnston, Cory Burke, and Tony Trujillo in June of 2013 in the Lewiston, ID & Clarkston, WA valley areas. Within just a couple weeks of beginning the project, Beyond Today had already written a handful of songs that were ready to be recorded. They chose Amplified Wax Recording Studio in Spokane, WA as their production destination.

Beyond Today completed recording their debut EP in just 2 days. Once they finished the process, they added their forth band member, Vaughn Knoeppel, and started playing shows in Palouse, ID, one of which gathered over 2,000 attendees.

Beyond Today made a name for themselves in their hometown of Lewiston, ID with the early release of their song “Colors” on their local rock radio station Z-Rock 96.5 FM. The song was selected to be a part of the Z-ROCK KOZE Cage Match against big name acts. They won all 5 nights in a row securing their spot in the Z-Rock Hall of Fame. Once their debut EP was released in October of 2013, they started to pick up even more ground, with requests to have them play all over the Northwest. To that extent, they won 2nd Place at The Gorilla Music Battle of the Bands Finals in Spokane, WA.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tony Trujillo, the bassist and backing vocalist of Beyond Today, and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his upcoming tour schedule, and his new album The Artificial Heart.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: How did you come up with the band name Beyond Today?

Beyond Today started back in June of 2013 in the Lewiston, ID & Clarkston, WA valley. Guy Johnston (our lead vocalist) and I were in a previous project together. We had, at the time, booked studio time to record a handful of tracks with that project but we switched gears to lean more towards the rock side of things, wanting to get that energetic live show aspect going rather than the lighter “indie” stuff we were working on prior. With that studio time already booked, which was only a month out, we realized we needed to get some songs done quickly.

During a two week period of that short time before recording what would ultimately become the basis of our sound and identity, we buckled down and got to writing, fleshing out previous riffs, and wound up finishing seven songs for our initial EP. When it came time to record, which we only had three ten-hour days to complete, we still hadn’t come up with a band name yet, dozens were tossed around but we settled on Beyond Today because it was something that just grabbed us. It was also a kind of mantra for us, as in always looking beyond today to what’s next and to push ourselves to the best of our ability to be able to continue to grow as people, musicians, and a band to get there.

Beyond-Today-Performing

TCS: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?

I’d have to say I first realized I wanted to be a musician after seeing a Saliva/Default show when I was about 10 or 11 years old in New England. Something about the atmosphere and the energy of their performances just got my total and complete attention, from their music, to the stage presence, and the lighting and effects of the show. I’ve been involved in music ever since.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Tony Trujillo or the band Beyond Today, how would you describe your musical genre?

Hi, I’m Tony Trujillo of Beyond Today, in which I play bass and do the backing vocals for the band. Guy Johnston, is our main vocalist, and plays guitar and piano. Jeremy Wilcox is one of the main guitarists along with Paul Nims, and Tim Thornton is the man on the drum throne.

Beyond Today’s genre can be classified as Rock/ Alt. Rock/ Hard Rock/ Post-Grunge. We get compared a lot, with our similarities, to; Shinedown, Seether, Theory of a Deadman, Killswitch Engage, Saint Asonia, Breaking Benjamin, and many others which I can’t quite recall off of the top of my head. Those ones we certainly hear more often than not though.

Beyond-Today-The-Band

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singer/songwriter and performer?

I followed a lot of the 90’s and 2000’s rock, hard rock, and metal bands growing up. Some of my favorites were Metallica, Ozzy, Papa Roach, Fuel, Chevelle, Korn, Disturbed, Crossfade, Linkin Park, 3 Doors Down, AFI, Cold, Theory of a Deadman, Default, Saliva, Filter, Big Wreck, Thornley, Deftones, Soundgarden, Thousand Foot Krutch, Pantera, Anberlin, Jerry Cantrell, Alice In Chains, and Three Days Grace, just to name a few. Music is almost all about listening, and I certainly learned a lot listening to those bands. A lot with phrasing, how notes move together to create the triads and chords used in constructing songs, and how syllabic rhythm played a role in vocal lines, melody, and lyrics.


TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your new full length album entitled The Artificial Heart. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

We started the writing process on the album back at the end of 2014, and started the recording process in March of 2015. This album was a lot of fun for us as a band. We wanted to feed off of the response we received from our EP namely with our song “Colors”. We wanted to build upon what we did with that and create some more high energy in your face kind of rock in our own way. We also re-recorded some of the older tunes to match the sound we were originally going for had we not been cut short on the recording time in the beginning of the band. That made the album full length with thirteen songs. It was quite the feat for us, but was always a goal we had, to get a full length out to really showcase all of the different songs we have.

My favorite part of the album recording process was the production of it. After the “scratch tracks” were recorded we really got to dive in and add things such as effects, harmonies, strings, and other interesting sounds that made the songs really stand out and become more and more personal to us. The challenging part was finding “that” sound with guitar tones and making them really punch. Luckily we came across the amps by the name of Kemper Profiling Amplifiers. Which allowed us to get the sounds we were after, making that larger than life guitar sound that we were after.

Beyond-Today-The -Artifical-Heart

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of The Artificial Heart is the title track called “The Artificial Heart,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept

The concept behind the song “The Artificial Heart” was from the viewpoint of falling in love with someone but they didn’t feel that they were good enough for you, so you’d wait as long as you could because you knew that a relationship with them could really be something great if not wonderful, and trying your damnedest to help them see themselves in a better light as it were, but sometimes the ‘waiting’ can cause too much pain on both sides. The video that Jimmy did was kind of out of the blue, we already had some ideas for one that we would shoot, but he did one for our song “Starlight” that was pretty cool. He made the video for “The Artificial Heart” and we thought it was a pretty cool interpretation.


TCS: Can you describe for us the background to the hit single entitled “Stay” that also appears on The Artificial Heart?

“Stay” is another one about a snapshot in a relationship, in where you first meet the person, and just want to really stay with them and lose yourselves in each other. It’s about that moment. That first sight kind of aspect.


TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

One of the strangest places I’ve played personally was during a show at night outdoors, when a torrential rain storm struck and soaked just about every piece of gear, but the show went on, until it cut the power. It was pretty fun, except replacing the equipment afterwards.

TCS: Tell us about the Beyond Today song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Sunburnt Cradle”?

That one was just a song we wrote quickly that had a really good feel to it. The lyric video I made in after effects. I actually do all of the graphics and things in that nature for the band. Saves us a lot of money not having to hire out.


TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

One venue that I’ve always wanted to play is the Whiskey a Go Go in West Hollywood, California. I’d love the opportunity to play with the likes of Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, or Stanley Clarke. They are some killer bass players.

TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fan base?

We try to look as professional as we possibly can. We make attention grabbing graphics and sell interesting one of a kind merchandise items, including dog tags, shot glasses, leather wrist bands, and other knick-knacks.

Beyond-Today-Merch

Additionally, we stay connected to our fans at shows and online media via the following:

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

Definitely one band everyone should check out is a band out of Tennessee called Skytown Riot. We toured with those guys back in 2014, My favorite song by them would have to be “Runaway Princess” or “Soul or System”.


TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Beyond Today?

We’ve got some really cool shows planned for this summer. In June, we are headlining The Knitting Factory in Spokane, WA. Later this Summer/Early Fall we plan to go into the recording studio and do pre-production on the next album which will be out spring of next year. We also have some other very big things in the works that we’ll be announcing later on, as well as some music videos. You’ll just have to come check out what we got coming up.

Song List on The Artificial Heart (2016)

Beyond-Today

  1. Break Me
  2. Aftermath
  3. Where We Go
  4. Stay
  5. Colors
  6. Going Back
  7. StarlightT
  8. The Divide
  9. Silver Tongue
  10. Ghost
  11. Inside the Fire
  12. The Artificial Heart
  13. Blackbird

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Karen Mansfield: Singer And Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

Karen-Mansfield-Mesa-Promo

Singer-songwriter Karen Mansfield, long considered a mainstay of the legendary Asbury Park, New Jersey music scene, is best known for her enticing onstage presence and mesmerizing contralto vocal range.

Mansfield, who began her career as the frontperson in the 80’s all-girl punk band known as the Bleeding Knees, has been described as highly melodic and enchantingly haunting. Lyrically, she forms a strong bond with her audience by connecting through a range of deep emotions involving everyday love and relationship situations.

Over her career, Mansfield has recorded and performed with numerous national artists including, Jewel, Concrete Blonde, Whirling Dervishes, Bobby Bandiera (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Jon Bon Jovi), Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live Band), Mikeal Jorgensen (Wilco), Erik Paparazzi (Cat Power), John Conte (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes), John Eddie, Vance Gilbert, Johnny Thunders, and Willie Nile.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen Mansfield and asking her a few questions about her musical inspiration and influences, her songwriting and recording process, her upcoming appearances, and her self-titled debut six song EP.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you in your journey?

I was very young when my maternal grandmother would come over and sing to us and give us each a song of our own to learn and perform for the next time she’s visit. Mine was “There is a Tavern in the Town”. I remember looking forward to singing it for her and learning new songs. Her brother had been a vaudeville performer so she taught us all the tunes she’d learned from him.

Karen-Mansfield

I remember at a family party standing on a picnic table in the backyard of my Aunt and Uncle’s home, singing a song a made up, “Rock ‘n’ Roll in My Tummy”. We later figured out that I must have been 3 or 4 at the time.

Then on my 7th birthday I saw the Carpenters in concert and that was a big deal. My mom was a fan, and we had all their albums and 45’s. I think having heard the music in my home and also on the radio, then experiencing it live — also feeling some kind of connection with Karen because we had the same first name, (you know little kids think like that) — the combo of it all struck me and I’ve never been the same since. Karen was wearing a beautiful gown singing her heart out, and then she ran off stage and changed into some slacks and came out, sat behind the drum set and rocked out! I was thrilled!! I knew what I wanted to do with my life since that moment. I begged Santa for a drum set every year and never stopped singing and making up songs.

I believe that my father’s Grundig stereo console from Germany was instrumental in my early musical development. I remember my parents showing me how to turn it on and use the turntable. I remember feeling the warmth and hearing the hum of the tubes, playing LP’s and singles, dancing around the living room, singing and acting out the words to every song. I loved it! Certainly my favorite pastime as a youngster.

We had a piano in our living room that I used to color on the keys with crayons. I remember trying to sound out familiar melodies. My parents didn’t play, but my dad knew enough to teach me, “Heart and Soul” and “Nickelodeon”. It was tough playing though, when everyone else wanted to watch TV.

Karen-Mansfield-Performing

Later when I was ten my dad gave me a miniature reel-to-reel recorder he hadn’t used in years. We went to Radio Shack and bought a cheap little mini microphone. He showed me how it worked and I fell in love with recording, making up characters and songs on the spot.

Another early influence that I feel steered me into music was our family parties. My mom came from a large family with 11 siblings, and when they’d all get together they’d spend a good portion of the night singing, and having a ball. The last song of the evening was always “Side By Side”. I can recall wanting to be a part of that kind of fun and comradery, and of course, all that singing.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Karen Mansfield, how would you describe your musical genre?

I don’t feel I have a genre other than rock. It’s eclectic, but if I had to I’d say Retro-Pop Rock, Roots, Adult Alternative Pop, Americana, Alternative Country, Singer Songwriter. People have said I sound like Janis Joplin, Emmylou Harris, Olivia Newton John, PJ Harvey, and Karen Carpenter. I guess one would have to listen to decide for one’s self I think. I’m not aiming at any specific genre except rock. I just want to make great music.


TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singer/songwriter and performer?

Elvis! I remember staying up late to watch the comeback special. I was pretty young, but I do remember! I’m pretty sure he influenced “Rock ‘n’ Roll in my Tummy”.

I loved Dinah Shore, Hee Haw, Partridge Family, and the Osmond’s; honestly anything music drew me in. Since there were six of us Mansfield kids, I wondered why we weren’t in a band with a TV show!

In the late 70’s my brother ordered a bunch of records from K-Tel for $.99 each. One of the albums he received was called “British Gold”, a compilation of hits like “Bus Stop” by the Hollies, “The Letter” by the Box Tops, “World Without Love” Peter and Gordon, Derek and the Dominoes, Cream, The Yardbirds, and more. I loved it. Since we didn’t have a ton of records I’d play that one and the Elvis greatest hits record and Linda Ronstadt over and over.

Karen-Mansfield-Live-Brighton-Bar

We used to spend a lot of time at my Uncle Rocky and Aunt Cherie’s and he’d always be listening to the country station 1050 WHN. I started listening in my room on a little transistor radio under my pillow; so there is that country-based influence.

I was a pretty big Donny and Marie fan as a middle schooler. Then my tastes changed as I got into high school. I absolutely loved The Doors; definitely my favorite band of all-time. I was into B-52’s, Led Zeppelin, The Who, early Ozzy Osbourne, and Bruce Springsteen. I later got into Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday.

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your 2014 self-titled EP Karen Mansfield. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

My favorite part of making this record was working with the guys I chose for the project. Rob Tanico is just bursting with creative genius and loves music possibly more than anyone I’ve ever met. I knew I was in good hands with him as producer and musical director. We had a magical day at Shorefire Recording Studios in Long Branch, NJ laying down live tracks for bass, drums, and guitar. Most tracks were done on the first or second take. I love that room and Joey DeMaeo is solid gold. I felt that having P.K. Lavengood on guitar, David Halpern on drums, and Rob on bass it was going to be a great studio experience and it certainly was. They’re all of course so familiar with each other, having worked together for so many years; P.K. and Dave playing with John Eddie and Rob and Dave with Mr. Reality and Highway Nine. The energy was great and I felt that everyone was equally excited for the project.

The only challenge I had was being patient waiting for the rough mixes. Rob put a lot into this project and played nearly everything that wasn’t laid down on that first day in the studio. I consider myself a pretty patient person but the excitement of completing this album proved to the contrary.


I had the best artists working on the photos and album artwork. I had such a great experience working with my art director Barbie, who just happens to now be my sister-in-law. I couldn’t be happier with Steve Greenwell’s job mixing it, and Turtle Tone with a fine mastering job. I enjoyed working with everyone at Disc Makers and CD Baby.

It was all very exciting and encouraging.  There was a bit of panic and juggling for me to make it all happen, but I’m very happy for the experience and can’t wait to do it again.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of that EP is the track called “I Know You Know,” so can you share with us the writing process and the meaning behind it?

Actually, this was one of those songs that writes itself and it the whole process takes less than 15 minutes. I’m not sure where the inspiration for this song came from but I remember it fell upon me while I was in the studio recording a record in the early 90’s. I guess I wanted to write about that electric intensity, that magnetic pull of attraction, and the waiting, knowing after the first kiss, etc., you might get that feeling back. Not like it was prior. So, you wait, in the excitement and the desire. You leave it up to other person to make the first move. Maybe you’re not sure they’re feeling what you are. It’s the buzz of sensory overdrive and the anticipation of that magic moment when you succumb to the inevitable.


TCS: Tell us about how rewarding it was to serve as the frontperson for the all-girl punk band Bleeding Knees and how it prepared you for your solo career?

I enjoyed my time thoroughly during the Bleeding Knees days. I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. I had my fist gig booked before I even had enough songs for our set. I was shy and hid behind bangs that fell into my eyes. It was a great time of writing about whatever came to mind, what I thought was funny, or lame, and what would shock people. Honestly we were out of control. I barely knew how to tune my guitar. We were funny! People loved coming out and getting the joke! Checking out what obnoxious thing would we do next. The songs were funny, crude, silly and we had a blast. I recall someone after one of our shows at the Green Parrot in Neptune, NJ saying we reminded them of Pebbles and Bam Bam from The Flintstones but with cuss words. It was a lot of fun. The other members were still interested in coming up with more outrageous and raunchy material when I felt it was time for me to take things a bit more seriously as a songwriter.

I never wanted to perform solo and was waiting to come across players who’d want to back me up. One day my friend Alex Goetchius called asking me to open for his band, Piece of Wood, at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch. He encouraged me to play solo. I’d never turned down a show before and although I was petrified I did the show anyway. So, I feel fronting the Bleeding Knees taught me that I can get out there no matter what and connect with the audience whether it be with a band or by myself with an acoustic guitar. I guess I was ok at it since I ended up being nominated 9 times and winning 3 Asbury Park Music awards in the “Top Female Solo” category.

Karen-Mansfield-Bleeding-Knees

TCS: Can you share with us some details about your time performing with numerous artists such as Jewel, Bobby Bandiera (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and Jon Bon Jovi), Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live Band), Mikeal Jorgensen (Wilco), and Concrete Blonde just to name a few?

I opened for Jewel at the Saint in Asbury Park just about six months before her album went platinum and everybody knew who she was. She was not feeling well that night so she stayed in her van until her performance. Great voice, though she did a bit of yodeling, which was kinda different for Asbury Park. I was impressed.

My sister dragged me out to see Bobby Bandiera on a Wednesday night at Cheers in Long Branch circa ’89 or ’90. On his break we were introduced and immediately he asked, “ya wanna sing?”. This became a weekly occurrence, never rehearsed, always a ton of fun. He’d call me up to do “I Got You Babe”, “Love Potion #9”, “Dream Lover”, “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”, and more. It was wild fun. Bobby is fantastic.

It was certainly the place to be on Wednesday nights. I think I stopped making the scene in ’96, around the time I had my daughter but I’ll always remember how he encouraged me and included me.

Shawn Pelton played with John Eddie and I’d known him from the local music scene and from playing with P.K.’s band Without Fear, also at Cheers. Then in ’92 or ’93 when I was making a record in Red Bank we called in Shawn to play on most of the 11 tracks. He’s the best!! The album has never been completed but one single entitled “Jessie” was released and is available still on ReverbNation. He’s such a phenomenal player and so amazing to work with!

Mikael Jorgensen and Erik Paparozzi were in a local early ’90’s band which I absolutely loved, called Lizard Music. I met them at an open mic at the Ink Well in West End and fell in love with them! I requested them on all the shows I did and we became great friends. We had a lot of laughs and we encouraged and believed in each other’s music. It was a sweet time!! Then when their bass player, Chris Guice, was in California playing bass for a kids show on Nickelodeon, “You Can’t Do That On Television”, Mikael, Erik, and I formed as “Karen’s Lizard” as per request by Brighton Bar promoter Jacko Monahan. We did a few shows mixing up the set with half my tunes and half Lizard Music tunes. The guys had such amazing harmonies and I just loved hearing my songs with their added magic.

During the early to mid-90’s I had many opportunities to open for national acts. One of the most exciting of those times was when I got the chance to open for Concrete Blonde during their Bloodletting tour. The show was at the Fast Lane is Asbury Park. The place was packed and the audience was wild, and super receptive to me and my acoustic guitar. Johnette Napolitano and the guys were awesome!!

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite off of your new EP entitled “Your Lies”?

The title says it all, “Your Lies”. I think it’s about the affect the lies have on the broken lover, the hopelessness of the situation when one is addicted to the lies of unhealthy love. I’ve found sometimes there’s a dream that underneath all the falsehood there might be a person of substance who could be capable of something real and good and pure. It’s a tremendously sad song.


TCS: Share with us your experience in playing at the Light of Day Festival in January of 2015?

My performance for Light of Day 2015 was at Asbury Lanes, in Asbury Park. My band was Rob Tanico on bass, P.K. Lavengood on guitar, Billy Siegel on Keys and David Halpern on drums. We played for a half an hour and did mostly all the songs on the EP, plus a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Joleen”. It was one of the best shows we’ve done so far. It’s always such an honor to perform for Light of Day and to be a part of finding a cure for Parkinson’s and related diseases.

TCS: How thrilling was it for you when the Asbury Press wrote an article featuring you entitled “Jersey Shore Treasure Karen Mansfield Returns to Scene”?

Oh, it felt great! I’ve felt loved for a great many years now, having been a part of the scene for so long.

I took a long break to be with my daughter and try other career options. As my daughter grew up I felt I was being called back to my music. My return was certainly greeted with a warm welcome and I couldn’t be happier. I’m very grateful to be welcomed back to the music community with open arms. It’s like having a second family! Certainly blessed to have all the live and support I continue to receive!!

TCS: From your new EP, please describe for us the writing and recording process behind the single entitled “Just A Man”?

”Just a Man” came out of me talking to a friend about a guy I was hung up on, and her being sick of me going on and on describing all of his wonderful attributes. She finally looked and me and said, “he’s just a man!” Kinda like, get over it! Of course my response was, “yeah, but he does it to me”. Not all of them do so I thought it was worth putting into a song.

The song wrote itself. Rob came up with the early Rolling Stones feel for the recording. It’s one of my favorites to play live; and audiences connect with it too.

When someone “does it to you” it feels great, and that’s what this song is about.


TCS: After all these years of chasing your musical dreams, what do you feel keeps you motivated to continue recording and performing?

I am motivated by the desire to reach the listeners who connect with my writing and my performance. I don’t know that I’ve done that to the best of my ability yet, at least not on the scale that I believe I can. Also, I feel this is a calling and to turn around at this point would just not be acceptable. Most of all, I continue because of the love of music. I’m still that little three-year-old getting goosebumps from watching Elvis in that leather suit, teaching us all how it’s done. I’m blessed to feel what I do every time I make folks happy with my music.

Lastly, the most important reason is to teach my daughter to follow her dreams, to be true to herself no matter what anyone says. To find out what brings you joy and to do it with all her heart, soul, and strength. To dig deep inside, work hard, and never give up.

TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

My very first show was on ’85 or ’86, I with my friend Diana at a furniture gallery for a holiday event called “Festival of the Trees”. It was a silent auction for elaborately decorated Christmas trees. We played in front of a fancy staircase and had to move every 2 minutes when shoppers or staff wanted to come through. It was pretty awkward but we had fun.

I’ve played the 8×10 Club in Baltimore, hit my head on the ceiling trying to get on stage. Cool place though. We were there the day after Michelle Shocked.

Karen-Mansfield-Blue

TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances?

I usually post my events on my Facebook Music/Band page. I also use Bandsintown, ReverbNation, and my website KarenMansfield.com. Additionally, I tweet on my Twitter account, post on Instagram, Tumbler, Pinterest, and sometimes on LinkedIn.

To stay connected with Karen Mansfield, please visit the following:

Tee shirts are on their way. And, my CDs are for sale at all of my shows and are also available on the following:

TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play either as a member of Bleeding Knees or as a solo performer? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

While in the Bleeding Knees I was content just gigging locally. I was still very shy and apprehensive in those days. Nowadays I’d like to travel to perform in cities like Nashville, Asheville, Austin, Philly, New York, where ever there’s a cool music scene, where ever I can meet my listeners. I’d like to perform in other countries as well. There are many venues I look forward to performing in! I can’t wait to play whatever venues the future holds for me.

As far as performing alongside other entertainers, I am open to whatever comes my way!

I’m looking forward to an upcoming trip to Mesa, AZ where I’ll be performing for the Mesa Music Festival November 13-15, 2015. It’s going to be a huge event with Matt Pinfield giving the keynote address at the opening ceremony.

I look forward to meeting the locals there and meeting many of the artists and industry professionals in town for the event.

Karen-Mansfield-Songwriter

TCS: What famous song do you wish you had been credited with writing and performing?

There isn’t a song that comes to mind that I wish I’d written. Though, there are amazing songs out there, that of course, when I hear them I wish I would write a song of equal intensity, sensitivity, depth of soul, and brilliance.

I’ve always thought that I’d love to make a record like Carol King’s Tapestry. It’s got everything and it’s wonderful from start to finish.

I guess if I had to pick one song I might go with “On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)”, because I find it so inspiring.

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

I love J.D. McPherson. And his tune “North Side Gal” changed my life.  I also love Lucinda Williams and all of her songs, especially her album Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Karen Mansfield?

Short term is Mesa, AZ for the first ever Mesa Music Festival November 13-15, 2015. Then I am hopefully heading into the studio to start my next album. I’m hoping to play more music festivals, house concerts, and shows out of my hometown region.

Long term, I plan to keep making music, writing, recording and performing, and meeting great folks like you along the way.

Song List on Karen Mansfield (2014)

Karen-Mansfield-CD

  1. “I Know You Know”
  2. “No More Suffering”
  3. “Your Lies”
  4. “Just a Man”
  5. “Destiny”
  6. “Keep On (For the Sunny Days)”

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Everything Falls: Modern Rock Band

Written by: Frank Iacono

Everything-falls-band

Everything Falls burst onto the Washington D.C. metro rock scene in early 2012, touring for their debut EP Fight From Within. Fast-forward to the summer of 2015, and Everything Falls is set to release their sophomore EP Through The Storm. The new album is a collection of songs that front man Aaron Linkous wrote while touring in 2012 and in the years after while the band was relocating from Washington D.C. to northern New Jersey.

Throughout 2011, Everything Falls was just getting things started. After bringing Mike Smith on board to play bass, the duo eventually ended up working with Producer Scott Robinson at his Sonic Sweets Recording studio in Beltsville, MD. What was born there would be the band’s debut release, Fight From Within. It was released in November of 2011 and included their first mainstream hit, “Sorry To Say.” The video for “Sorry To Say” was featured on national media outlets such as Blank TV, Pure Grain Audio, The Cool TV, and Renegade Radio. In addition, Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, Gold’s Gym, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line chose to promote the single. The song was also used by nationally televised and British-based professional wrestling program, UK Wrestling Experience. Other notable hits off of the album were the singles “Come On” and “Everything That You Wanted.”

In late 2012, Everything Falls continued their promotional tour for the EP, and ultimately landed an interview with The Real Radio Show in Long Island, NY. As the band gained momentum, new opportunities presented themselves, and Linkous eventually made the difficult decision to relocate the band to the New York City metro area.

In 2013, rebuilding of the band started. Kenny Sheldon, the new lead guitarist who was discovered at one of the many auditions held in the summer of 2013, quickly found his niche within Aaron’s songs. Unfortunately, it would be another two years before the band would be fully completed, with the lineup changing several times over. In early 2015, two additional band members were brought on board just before heading into the world-renowned Barber Shop Studios with Producer Brody Greif.

Comprised of Aaron Linkous, Kenny Sheldon, Danny Rojo, and Matt Regan. Everything Falls is weathered, but not broken. “Everything Falls has accomplished a lot up to this point, but we still have so much room for growth,” said Linkous. “We’re hungry to break into the regional scene and to make our live show something that fans are lining up to see. I believe that our new EP was appropriately named. After everything that it’s taken to get back to this point, it definitely feels like we’ve been through a storm. Fortunately, that storm forged a new path for our sound and helped to solidify who we are as musicians. We’re extremely proud of our sophomore EP, and we believe the fans will agree that it was worth the wait.”

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aaron Linkous, Kenny Sheldon, Danny Rojo, and Matt Regan of Everything Falls and asking them a few questions about their musical influences, their songwriting and recording process, their upcoming tour schedule, and their new EP Through The Storm.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: How did you come up with the band name Everything Falls?

Aaron Linkous: My wife, Mandy, and I share a love for hiking to waterfalls. As Mike Smith, a bassist and the first person I got to join the band with me back in 2010, and myself were toying around with many names I started to think about all of the cool waterfall names I’ve heard and seen over the years. So, I naturally just started putting different words in front of “falls” and I ended up with Everything Falls. It sounded catchy, so it stuck as our band name ever since.

Everything-Falls-Logo

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Everything Falls, how would you describe your musical genre?

AL: I would describe our sound as modern rock and maybe a bit of 90’s alternative. We’ve been compared to Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica, Breaking Benjamin, and a host of other bands, but we have a unique and fresh sound that sets us apart from all of those bands. The band originally started in Rockville, MD in 2010. We recorded our first EP Fight From Within throughout 2011 with producer Scott Robinson at his Sonic Sweets Studio in Beltsville, MD. We released that EP in December of 2011 and toured regionally throughout 2012.

TCS: Can you introduce us to the Everything Falls lineup and tell us what each person in the band does?

AL: The Everything Falls band lineup consists of the following (shown below left to right):

  • Matt Regan – Drummer
  • Kenny Sheldon – Lead Guitarist & Backing Vocals
  • Aaron Linkous – Lead Vocalist & Rhythm Guitarist
  • Danny Rojo – Bassist & Backing Vocals (former bassist Amriel Kissner is shown in pic)

Everything-falls-theband

TCS: How long has this current lineup of Everything Falls been playing together and how did you all get started?

AL: This current lineup is fairly new. Danny just came on board about a month ago. We went into the studio with a different bassist (Amriel Kissner), but Amriel was not interested in touring. Matt came on board in January of this year. He came in as we were prepping for our newest EP Through The Storm. He is a long time friend of Kenny and we had been talking about possibly having him out to a practice to see if he would be a good fit for the position. After the first practice I was certain that he was the man for the job. And, Kenny has been with me almost two years now. I landed him in the first round of auditions that I held in July of 2013.

Initially, I thought that I was going to be able to pull things together rather quickly upon moving to New Jersey from Maryland. I’ve been in this situation a few times over my musical career with moves from Blountville to Nashville, TN; Nashville to Rockville, MD; and Rockville to Springfield, NJ, so I knew exactly what steps I needed to take in order to arrange everything. Unfortunately, after Kenny came on board things slowed down rather drastically. I had taken on a 3rd shift job and between it and needing sleep I just didn’t have the time necessary to run the band properly. That all changed after I decided to leave that job late last year and to make music my sole career. Since then the lineup has been finalized, we’ve recorded Through The Storm and shot a video for the lead off single “Let It Go (Enemy)”, and are now gearing up for regional touring in the very near future. It’s taken some time to pull everything back together, but I feel that we have a very solid lineup now.

Everything-falls-performing

TCS: Can you describe for us the song writing, studio recording, and video production process behind the lead single “Let It Go (Enemy)” from Through The Storm?

I began writing “Let It Go (Enemy)” in mid-2012. I wanted a song with a little more power to it. Something that would truly rile a live crowd up. In the studio we stuck to that live feel. We didn’t spend time tweaking every little strum on the guitar or on the drums. It was the feeling of the song that we were after and I believe we achieved that driving beat that just calls out to all of the head bangers out there. We recorded bass and drums simultaneously together. Followed with myself cranking out the rhythm tracks. We followed it up with lead guitar and vocals. It’s polished, but not overly polished and you can still sense that original energy that I imagined the song would have from the moment I started writing it. The making of the video was much the same. We planned out an excellent storyboard, but some things we did tweak on the fly. It was a rather large shoot as I think the whole video has around 15 separate actors or musicians in it. Not enormous or anything, but a rather large undertaking for an indie band that’s trying to keep to a budget. Ultimately, it turned out extremely well and I believe the audience will enjoy it upon its release. No date has been firmly picked just yet, but we’re shooting for around three weeks after the album hits the market.

 

TCS: From a song writing, studio recording, and accompanying music video perspective, can you share with us some of the background surrounding the second single from Through The Storm entitled “Daylight Takes The Dawn”?

I wrote “Daylight Takes The Dawn” (DTTD) back in 2012. It was always meant to be that song about an artist on the road missing his family. I pictured the cold weather and the long days of being away from the people that I love the most. Hopefully, most people will say that I sold that idea.

The recording of DTTD took place at Barbershop Studios in Hopatcong, New Jersey. You can find video of us actually tracking the song on our Facebook page. Quite a funny video! We had a blast though and tried to really sink our teeth into this song. It’s definitely a stand out track from our sophomore CD Through The Storm.

The video for DTTD was filmed, directed, and edited by the TV/Film department at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA. The video was filmed on location at DeSales along with home scenes shot at mine and my wife’s current Townhouse in NJ. We simply stuck to the storyline conveyed in the song and tried our best to make it as realistic as possible for the audience. The weather even helped out nicely here in NJ by dropping some snow on the ground just in time for the filming. We had a wonderful team assigned to the project and we couldn’t be any prouder of this video. Everyone should check it out if they haven’t already! Also, share it like crazy on your social platforms!!! We truly need everyone’s support.

 

TCS: Aaron at what age did you realize that you wanted to be a musician?

AL: I always sang when I was younger. If I didn’t have the lyrics to a song, then I’d sit down with a piece of paper and listen to the song over and over until I had all the lyrics. It was a hobby of mine I guess, but it helped me later on when I started writing songs. I picked up the guitar at the age of 12. My best friend at the time played guitar. When I would go to his house he was always playing, so it became kind of boring just watching him play and I figured I should probably learn to play too. I played in a high school band. We played around my hometown at middle school dances, local festivals, we even played a wedding reception once. I was probably 18 though when I realized that music was something that I was very passionate about and that I wanted to pursue. From there I put myself through college at MTSU where I majored in the recording industry program. MTSU is one of the top recording programs in the country. I believe it was something like only 52 candidates made it into the program every semester. So, you started out with massive classes and by the time you were at the end of the program there might have been 15 people per class. I specifically put myself through that program because I wanted a career in music.


TCS: As a band what famous musicians do each of you admire and how have they influenced you both individually and collectively?

AL: I’m definitely a huge fan of 90’s music. The first rock band I really listened to was Live. From there I listened to Green Day, Bush, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Metallica and so many others that I’d be naming them all day. Once I was in high school I started listening to a lot of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Creedence Clearwater Revival. I was actually nicknamed “Little Fogerty” because a lot of my fellow classmates thought I sounded just like John Fogerty. I was asked by teachers and students to sing in the middle of class and even in the middle of lunch one day. One of my football coaches was talking to another teacher about my singing and my coach said, “go ahead and sing for him.” I was a little hesitant, but did it anyways. The whole lunch room went silent and they just started listening to me sing. That was pretty cool and I think to this day that CCR and Fogerty has made my voice what it is. From there, I listened to bands like Lifehouse, Three Doors Down, Three Days Grace, Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman, Seether, Breaking Benjamin, Matchbox 20, and the list goes on. Every one of these bands taught me something about songwriting or writing lyrics with great imagery. I didn’t just listen to these albums I studied them.

Kenny Sheldon: When I first started playing guitar, I was heavily influenced by Live, and Metallica. Over the years my musical tastes have evolved, and I have Frank Zappa to thank (indirectly) for two of my essential developmental influences on guitar: Trey Anastasio (Phish), and John Petrucci (Dream Theater)…both of whom regard Zappa as a major influence of theirs.

Danny Rojo: Jaco Pastorius as he inspired me to play bass. I was playing guitar and clarinet, and the first moment I heard Pastorius playing bass, I decided the bass would be my signature instrument for the rest of my life, because of his sound, energy, and performance. Equally, I would say Eddie Van Halen because as a musician, I always admired innovation. I believe he’s the most innovative rock musician. He discovered sounds on the guitar that no one ever knew how to make before.

Matt Regan: For me, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine), David Silveria (Korn), Chad Sexton (311), Matt Cameron (Soundgarden), Jeremy Taggart (Our Lady Peace), and Jose Pasillas (Incubus). I grew up playing along to all of these drummers and they’ve helped influence much of what I play today. Portnoy introduced me to drumming with a double bass drum pedal.

TCS: Can you describe for us the Everything Falls song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Sorry to Say” which appeared on the EP Fight From Within?

AL: I wrote the song “Sorry To Say” when I was 18. It’s a song that I’ve played and recorded with my band Linkous in Nashville and with Everything Falls. So, this song has been a standard song for me for almost 14 years now. I recorded the song with producer Scott Robinson at his Sonic Sweets Studio. On the track I played rhythm guitar, bass, and sang lead vocals and harmonies.

The video production was done by Taylor Morden and Joe Mach. They also did all of the set design. The storyline was created by my wife Mandy Linkous. We hired 3 individuals to be a part of the video. Nic Detorie played the lead actor along with our female lead Brittany Martz. Tara Brown was our second female actress. We shot the video over two days at a warehouse in Falls Church, VA. It was actually where Mike Smith and I worked. Our boss suggested and allowed us to use the space, which was a tremendous help. Taylor and Joe did an outstanding job with the production and I’ve been very proud to show that video to anybody and everybody that I can.


TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does Everything Falls use?

AL: Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier through a Marshall 2 x12 cabinet. I have three guitars: White-Gibson SG, Black-Gibson Les Paul Studio, and a Red-PRS SE Singlecut.

KS: Guitars: PRS Custom 22 Artist Series, Jackson RR3 Rhoads V (mods: Seymour Duncan neck/bridge pickups), Epiphone Les Paul Standard (mods: Seymour Duncan neck/bridge pickups), Ibanez AF75 hollowbody. Amps: Hughes & Kettner (head), Marshall (head), Crate (cab), Orange (cab). Effects: MXR, BOSS, Ibanez, and BBE pedals.

DR: Custom-made Warwick Streamer Deluxe 5-string, a Fender Jazz vintage 1978 bass and a fretless Fender Precision 1976 bass. I use a Mark Bass head and cabinets (endorsed), EBS pedals (endorsed) and Audix microphones (endorsed).

MR: 5 piece Pearl Export Pro series with a Pearl Eliminator Demon Drive double bass pedal and Pearl Eliminator high hat. Cymbals are a mix of Sabian AAX Omni ride, O-Zone splash, and Omni crash. Sabian HHX china, crash, Paiste splash. Sabian high hats and a Sabian Portnoy Mini Max Stax splash and China kang.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs originally off of the EP Fight From Within is the track called “Everything That You Wanted,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it?

AL: I wrote the song “Everything That You Wanted” around 2006 while living in Nashville. I was in college at the time and had been married for a little over a year to my wife. I think at that time I just felt like there was nothing that could stop me from accomplishing what I wanted in this world. So many times people had told me that it’s just a dream and that you’ll never be able to amount to anything in the industry. Or, that you’re crazy for even trying to do this. To be told that you’re not good enough or the many discouraging things people say. Even my own thoughts were sometimes the enemy because I would start to listen to what people had said. This was my answer back to all that negativity and I think it resonates with a lot of people.


TCS: What do you think separates Everything Falls from similar bands and keeps you guys motivated to continue as a group?

AL: From what most of our fans have said, it’s our songwriting. They have told us that they instantly realized this wasn’t just another garage band. The last EP sonically sounded amazing as well thanks to Scott Robinson. That has definitely catapulted us out there.

I’ve approached this band kind of like a solo artist and I’ve built this band around my songs and my voice. It was necessary for me to set things up that way because I have had to move several times and may still have to in the future due to my wife’s job. It’s been a blessing in disguise though because this design has allowed me to grow my sound and given me flexibility to maneuver the many pitfalls that you run into in this industry.

TCS: Can you describe for us the song writing and recording background with the song “Come On” which also appeared on the EP Fight From Within?

I wrote “Come On” in 2008 I believe. I wanted to get a bit of a party song going, so I started out with the riff you hear in the beginning of the song. I started mumbling some words and “Come On” just naturally fell into place. Once I had the chorus I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the verses, so I imagined a bit of a bar scene. When I finished it was basically a story about a woman every guy was trying to hit on, but she only had eyes for me. Producer Scott Robinson also recorded “Come On” at Sonic Sweets. It featured Mike Smith on bass, Evan Louis on lead guitar, and Jeff Miklaszewski on drums.


TCS: In what ways does Everything Falls market band appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

Our email newsletters are our number one way to keep up with our fans. You can sign up by going to our ReverbNation page or through the widget on the home page of our website. There are monthly giveaways and sales that you will not hear about elsewhere. Additionally, we have an online store our fans can access through our website http://www.everythingfallsband.com.

To stay connected with Everything Falls, please visit the following:

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your sophomore EP entitled Through The Storm. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

AL: The tracking for the album was done in February of this year at the beautiful Barber Shop Studios in Hopatcong, NJ (Breaking Benjamin, Chad Smith, Warren Hayes, The Pretty Reckless, and a host of other greats have all recorded there). We spent three days there with producer Brody Greif. The studio was right on lake Hopatcong and at the time the lake was completely frozen over with snow all around it and it was a gorgeous view to take in every morning before we started tracking.

Honestly, I think everyone in the band has a different idea of what was the best part of production. Personally, my favorite is always tracking vocals. It’s that point when I get to hear everything finally coming together. One of the most challenging aspects that we had to deal with was maneuvering around the weather. I believe it snowed two out of three days that we were there. I think the second morning we showed up and the temperature was just above single digits. Not the best weather to load in a bunch of gear. Once we were at the studio we were working for 12-13 hours solid. In the end, everything turned out very well though and I strongly believe the fans are going to be thrilled with the new EP. The staff and interns were all very helpful and did an amazing job at Barber Shop. The studio manager Ryan Barber was a pleasure to work with as well.


TCS: Is there a particular venue that Everything Falls has always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

AL: Madison Square Garden in New York, but I’d also love to play at The Ryman Theatre and Riverfront Park in Nashville, TN. I would love to play alongside bands like Breaking Benjamin, Staind, Metallica, Three Doors Down, and Shinedown.

KS: In New York, I would love to perform at Radio City Music Hall or the Beacon Theatre. In Boston, I would love to play at the Orpheum Theatre or the House of Blues. However, the venue I would most like to play, which I consider to be the Holy Grail for all musicians who live, or have lived in Boston is Fenway Park. I’ve seen Paul McCartney, Phish, and Dave Matthews Band there. Every show there had an amazing vibe, and because I played baseball from T-Ball to high school, it had another intangible layer of sentimentality for me. So, I would most like to play a show at Fenway Park, opening (if not co-headlining) for The Dropkick Murphys. The energy in that place, for that band, in Boston…it must be absolutely bonkers! Out of control insanity that I would love for us to be a part of!

DR: For me, it would have to be either Wembley Stadium or Madison Square Garden. And, I would love to be up on that stage with Dave Grohl, Lzzy Hale, Eddie Van Halen, and Stevie Wonder.

MR: Alongside Rage Against The Machine at Woodstock.


TCS: What famous song do you wish you had been credited with writing and performing?

AL: That’s a tough question! I can think of a ton of great songs that I wish I had penned and performed. I would have to say “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. That’s hands down one of the most beautiful songs ever written in my opinion.

KS: I find myself saying “Bohemian Rhapsody” whenever I’m asked this particular question. I mean, how can you not wish you wrote the greatest song in rock and roll history? As for performing it, even though Queen didn’t play the middle section, I’ve always wanted to perform the song in its entirety!

DR: Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil”.

MR: Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Everything Falls?

AL: Short-term: We release our new EP. The leadoff single for the EP will be “Let It Go (Enemy)” and the video will be out shortly after the release of the album. We’re also in rehearsals right now to gear up for touring (no dates announced yet).

Long-Term: We hope to put out at least four singles from this EP all with their own video. We also intend to be back in the studio around the first of next year to start working on another EP.

Booking Everything Falls

For booking information, please contact Aaron Linkous via email at everythingfallsband@gmail.com.

Song List on Through the Storm (2015)

Everything-Falls-Through-The-Storm

  1. “Let It Go (Enemy)”
  2. “This Time”
  3. “Burn”
  4. “Breaking Free”
  5. “Daylight Takes the Dawn”

Song List on Fight From Within (2011)

Everything-Falls-Fight-From Within

  1. “Sorry To Say”
  2. “Come On”
  3. “Everything That You Wanted”
  4. “Understand”
  5. “Dying Day”

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Travis Clark: We The Kings

Written by: Frank Iacono and Celeste Iacono

Travis-Clark-we-the-kings

We The Kings is a melodic emo-pop band from Bradenton, Florida. Friends since childhood, the original four bandmates consisting of singer and guitarist Travis Clark, guitarist Hunter Thomsen, his bassist brother Drew Thomsen, and drummer Danny Duncan formed We The Kings while attending high school. They adapted their band name from the middle school that all the members attended called Martha B. King Middle School.

In 2007, under the guidance of manager Bret Disend, We The Kings placed a number of tracks on the social networking site PureVolume, a division of SpinMedia, to build online buzz. Meanwhile, they also pursued a deal with EMI’s imprint S-Curve Records, which eventually signed the group. On October 2, 2007, they released their self-titled debut album which was produced by Sam Hollander and mixed by Lou Giordano, both of whom had done work with some of emo-pop’s most marketable acts. That fall, “Check Yes Juliet” cracked the Pop 100, and the group spent much of the following two years on the road supporting the CD and building a loyal fan base.

By late 2009, We The Kings recorded and released their second album entitled Smile Kid. Like the band’s debut, Smile Kid spawned a Top 100 single with “We’ll Be a Dream,” which featured guest vocals from Demi Lovato. They continued to tour heavily, supporting fellow pop punk band All Time Low for several months before headlining their own shows both home and abroad. The shows stretched into 2011, by which point the group had already begun work on a third album Sunshine State of Mind which was released that summer and contained hits like “Friday Is Forever” and “Say You Like Me”.

On December 16, 2013 We The Kings released their fourth studio album entitled Somewhere Somehow which debuted at No. 44 on the US Billboard 200 and at No. 6 on the Rock Albums chart. The album was supported by four singles including “Just Keep Breathing”. In November of 2014, the band released the album Stripped exclusively through iTunes. It features acoustic versions of songs from Somewhere Somehow, including a rendition of the hit “Just Keep Breathing” as well as some new material, “Stone Walls” and the bonus track, “Is This the End?” Currently, Travis and his bandmates are busy working on completing their fifth studio album which should be released in the near future.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Travis Clark of We The Kings and asking him a few questions about the band, his personal background in writing some of their smash hits, his memorable performance at CBGBs in New York, and the band’s soon to be released fifth studio album.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Can you introduce us to the We The Kings lineup and tell us what each person in the band does?

Travis Clark: The band lineup consists of the following (as shown in pic below):

  • Hunter Thomsen – Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • Coley O’Toole – Keyboards, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
  • Travis Clark – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards
  • Danny Duncan – Drums, Percussion
  • Charles Trippy – Bass Guitar

We-The-Kings-Lineup

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with We The Kings, where are you from and how would you describe your musical genre?

TC: We The Kings hails from Bradenton, Florida. Through the years, we’ve been listed as a melodic emo-pop band or something somewhere out there but I think we’re just an American rock band.

We-The-Kings-concert

TCS: Describe for us the background to the 2008 hit platinum single and featured iTunes Single of the Week entitled “Check Yes, Juliet” that sold over 250,000 copies and peaked at number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 list in the US?

TC: “Check Yes, Juliet” was written in the final hours of the writing process and seemed to come out of nowhere. Dave Katz couldn’t seem to get this “Hey Mickey your so fine” sound out of his head and he had to write something for it during the final day of writing.


TCS: Why did you decide to sample a lyric from the song “Story of Your Life” from your second album Smile Kid (2009) and make that lyric the title of your album?

TC: The album title came first as it was always just an expression we used to remind ourselves to always keep it positive no matter what. We just added it to the song as it seemed to fit well with the vibe of that track.


TCS: In what ways does We The Kings market band appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

TC: YouTube…YouTube…YouTube. We are a YouTube band for sure.

To stay connected with We The Kings, please visit the following:


TCS: After all these years, what separates We The Kings from similar bands and keeps you motivated to continue as a group?

TC: I think it is clearly our personalities. We definitely pride ourselves in engaging with our fans (some of us every day!) with more than just music.

TCS: Why did you choose “Heaven Can Wait” as the lead single for the 2010 album Smile Kid? And, what personal connection do you have with the song?

TC: “Heaven Can Wait” was actually the very first song we wrote and recorded for the album Smile Kid so I think the decision to let it be the lead single was just based on our excitement to get the new music out, so since it was ready, we released it! The connection I have to that song is more of an imaginary fantasy. What I mean by that is, the song was written with the idea that some loves will outlive death. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic writer but this was the first time that I wrote anything along the lines of ‘even death can’t kill our love’… “Heaven can wait” encompasses that idea of death can wait because our love will never die.


TCS: “Just Keep Breathing” from your 2013 album Somewhere Somehow, which after its first week of release debuted at number 44 on the Billboard 200, discusses lead singer Travis Clark’s coping with bullying. Due to this personal track, how fulfilling was it to find out that the song debuted at number 92 on the Billboard Hot 100 list with 48,000 downloads sold?

TC: I remember the day that we found out that “Just Keep Breathing” was in the top 5 of iTunes singles. We were an unsigned band promoting our music by ourselves and our friends and family. We had no idea how much of an impact that song would make. Each song, once it’s released, gives you a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, but there truly is nothing like hearing that almost 50,000 people just bought your first single within the first couple of days and loved it.


TCS: What aspect of being musicians both excites and discourages We The Kings as a band the most? 

TC: Are there bands that are discouraged to be musicians? I could never imagine haha. We are always encouraged and excited about what we do. Getting together and going on stage is a part of who we are and it will never get old.

TCS: Is there a particular venue that We The Kings has always wanted to play?

TC: I’m pretty satisfied with being able to play CBGBs, the undisputed birthplace of punk, before they closed it down. It’s truly a piece of NY music history and we got to play on that stage. It was an honor really.

CBGB-New York-We-The-Kings

TCS: Over your career, We The Kings has toured with many different types of bands including Slayer, Iron Maiden, and Slash so can you tell us about that experience?

TC: This question is a bit deceiving as that was one festival show that we did in Australia a couple of years ago where those three bands were also featured. As much as I’d like to say that we have influences from Slayer, you can clearly tell that that is not the case.

TCS: What is the most exciting project We The Kings has worked on to date?

TC: Our latest album that will be released soon. The album is still without a title but the songs truly mean a lot to all of us.

Booking We The Kings

For booking information, please contact Matt Galle via email at mgalle@paradigmagency.com.

Song List on We The Kings (2007)

we-the-kings-album

  1. “Secret Valentine”
  2. “Skyway Avenue”
  3. “Check Yes Juliet”
  4. “Stay Young”
  5. “Whoa”
  6. “August Is Over”
  7. “The Quiet”
  8. “Don’t Speak Liar”
  9. “Headlines Read Out…”
  10. “All Again for You”
  11. “This Is Our Town”

Song List on Smile Kid (2009)

we-the-kids-smile-kid

  1. “She Takes Me High”
  2. “Promise the Stars”
  3. “Heaven Can Wait”
  4. “The Story of Your Life”
  5. “Rain Falls Down”
  6. “Summer Love”
  7. “In-n-Out (Animal Style)”
  8. “Spin”
  9. “Anna Maria (All We Need)”
  10. “We’ll Be a Dream (featuring Demi Lovato)”
  11. “What You Do to Me”

Song List on Sunshine State Of Mind (2011)

we-the-kids-sunshine-state-of-mind

  1. “Friday Is Forever”
  2. “Say You Like Me”
  3. “Every Single Dollar”
  4. “The View from Here”
  5. “The Secret to New York”
  6. “Sleep with Me”
  7. “Over You”
  8. “Kiss Me Last”
  9. “Somebody to Call My Own”
  10. “You and Only You”

Song List on Somewhere Somehow (2013)

we-the-kids-somehere-somehow

  1. “Queen of Hearts”
  2. “Find You There”
  3. “I Feel Alive”
  4. “I Like It”
  5. “That Feeling”
  6. “See You In My Dreams”
  7. “Die Young Live Forever”
  8. “Phoenix Hearts”
  9. “Any Other Way”
  10. “Say It Now”
  11. “Art of War”
  12. “Sad Song” (feat. Elena Coats)
  13. “Just Keep Breathing”

Song List on Stripped (2014)

we-the-kings-stripped

  1. “Just Keep Breathing”
  2. “Queen of Hearts”
  3. “I Feel Alive”
  4. “Sad Song” (feat. Elena Coats)
  5. “Any Other Way”
  6. “Art of War”
  7. “See You in My Dreams”
  8. “Find You There”
  9. “Stone Walls”

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Ages Apart: Alternative Rock Band

Written by: Frank Iacono

Ages-Apart

In 2006, Ages Apart came together to write and produce music that they felt people needed to hear. They wanted to impact and change a culture held captive by stagnant radio recycled pop sounds and bring to the world music with substance and depth, where not all band’s sound and look the same.

With that, Ages Apart balanced beauty and aggression on their critically acclaimed 2009 debut release Can You Hear Me. The album is packed full of singles that scream the whispered fears and guilty secrets of a disenfranchised generation. Guided by veteran producer Travis Wyrick, who has worked with P.O.D, 10 Years, and Pillar, the band achieved a sound both daring and familiar, at times introspective and at others furiously emotional.

Over the years Ages Apart has been together, they have toured through over 20 states and gained the attention of the industry. Black and White magazine calls them “Timeless”. Timothy Toutges of Ed Jones Productions in Nashville raves “Ages Apart is a world class band that will go all the way! This is what Rock & Roll dreams are made of”.

Now, Ages Apart returns in 2015 with their widely anticipated sophomore release S.T.A.T.I.C. — an intense and multidimensional narrative of a broken society. With words of truth, meaning, and inspiration in times of need for a disenchanted world, S.T.A.T.I.C. asks you to See Through All The Intelligent Chaos.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cody Webb, Will Bradley, and Chris Srygley of Ages Apart and asking them a few questions about their musical influences, their songwriting and recording process, their summer tour with Hinder, and their new CD S.T.A.T.I.C.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Can you introduce us to the Ages Apart lineup and tell us what each person in the band does?

Ages Apart: The Ages Apart lineup consists of the following:

  • Cody Webb – Lead Singer & Guitarist
  • Will Bradley – Bassist
  • Chris Srygley – Drummer

Ages-Apart-Band

TCS: How did you come up with the band name Ages Apart and is there any specific meaning behind it?

Chris Srygley: The name Ages Apart came about because the original lineup varied in age, and came from different backgrounds musically and personally.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Ages Apart, how would you describe your musical genre?

Will Bradley: Ages Apart is an Alternative Rock band. Fans mostly compare us to bands like 30 Seconds to Mars, Breaking Benjamin, and Shinedown.


TCS: How long has this current lineup of Ages Apart been playing together and how did you all get started?

Cody Webb: The current lineup has been together since 2011. I started the concept back in 2006 and Chris and I formed Ages Apart shortly thereafter in 2007. After an exhaustive search for a bassist, Marcus Chapman came in and filled the position. Marcus had to step down from his position in 2009 because of health issues. From 2009-2010 we had fill-ins tour with us until Will came on-board at the beginning of 2011. Will had been a fan of the band for years and was familiar with the material. He quickly became a permanent member of Ages Apart.

TCS: Cody, at what age did you realize that you wanted to be a musician? And, what famous musicians do you admire and how have they influenced you?

CW: I knew from the earliest that I can remember that I was going to be a part of the music world. I started beating on guitars before I could crawl and started writing songs around 7 years old. I have many influences in music but no one person, artist, or band really. My biggest influence is life.


TCS: Can you describe for us the Ages Apart song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Last Time” which appeared on the debut album Can You Hear Me?

CW: “Last Time” was written like most of our songs. I’ll come up with lyrics and vocal melodies and cut demos and start pre-production. After I have the arrangements set, we start studio production where everyone tracks their parts individually until we get the sound exactly how we want it.


TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does Ages Apart use?

CW: I use Gibson and Taylor guitars, Marshall amps, TC Electronic effects, Lucid Audio Project and Spectraflex cables, SIT strings, Shure, and Line 6 mics. Will uses Fender basses, Acoustic brand amps, Lucid Audio Project cables, SansAmp effects/driver/DI, and Line 6 wireless systems. Chris uses Mapex drums, Vater sticks, Shure, Audix, and Sennheiser mics, Lucid Audio Project cables, and Zildjian cymbals.

The band is sponsored by and proudly uses Venue Magic for stage production and sound effects, Lucid Audio Project cables, Effect Audio IEM cables, CLS Road Cases, and Fishman pickups in our acoustic guitars.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of Can You Hear Me is the track called “I Believed,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it?

CW: Everyone has their own interpretation and meaning of “I Believed” so I don’t want to take away from anyone’s personal experience of the song. To answer your question though, it’s essentially about putting your entire trust in someone, giving your all to them, to later find out that the person and relationship isn’t what you thought it was at all.


TCS: What do you think separates Ages Apart from similar bands and keeps you guys motivated to continue as a group?

CW: Our live show for one. We work hard to give the fans a killer show experience leaving them with something to remember for the rest of their lives. We aim to not just deliver the music, but to make a connection with everyone that we can. Another thing that I think makes Ages Apart unique is that the sounds you hear on our records are real. We don’t use fake/replaced drums, auto-tune, or anything like that. What you hear is what was played.

TCS: Can you describe for us the background behind the song “How Long” which appears on your widely anticipated sophomore release entitled S.T.A.T.I.C.?

CW: “How Long” is about the loss of self-respect which results in a loss of respect for others and other things. It’s about the amount of attention we put towards things of little to no value instead of focusing on helping each other and working together to make the world a better place. It’s about the lack of appreciation and respect for those here before us that worked extremely hard and died so we can enjoy everything we take for granted today.


TCS: So, what does S.T.A.T.I.C. stand for and how did you decide on it for the album name?

CW: S.T.A.T.I.C. stands for See Through All The Intelligent Chaos. I came up with the title while working on final lyrics for the record. The message of the record is ultimately about less division and coming together as a human race.

TCS: From an artistic perspective, what was your favorite part in the making of S.T.A.T.I.C. and what is your favorite song off of the album?

CW: Our favorite part of making S.T.A.T.I.C. is that we got to record it exactly how we wanted. This time around, we had no outside influence. It’s really hard for me to nail down a favorite song. I love all of them and they all have different personalities.

TCS: In what ways does Ages Apart market band appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

CW: Although social media is a huge part of our outreach, we like to personally meet our fans. Our website is the hub of information and communication for us. We run our social media page so that’s where people can chat with us directly. Our merchandise is distributed through many stores throughout the world and that continues to grow daily.

To stay connected with Ages Apart, please visit the following:

Ages-Apart-The-Band

TCS: Share with us how excited you guys are to be touring with Hinder this summer and tell us how you landed the gig?

CW: We were very excited to have been on the road with Hinder this summer. It was a blast and those guys are good people. We’ve made a lot of new friends on this tour and are very thankful and proud to have been invited.

TCS: Is there a particular venue or festival that Ages Apart has always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

CW: We’d like to play Red Rocks in Colorado and would love to share the stage with Foo Fighters.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Ages Apart?

CW: We’ll continue touring in support of our new album S.T.A.T.I.C. and are constantly writing new material for the next record. Everyone checking out this interview, I invite you to grab a copy of our new album from your favorite retailer and come see a show.

Song List on S.T.A.T.I.C. (2015)

Ages-Apart-STATIC

  1. Civil War
  2. Wake Up
  3. How Long
  4. Victim
  5. Could It Be
  6. I’m Right Here
  7. Broken Home
  8. Where Do We Go
  9. This Is Goodbye
  10. Fight

Song List on Can Your Hear Me (2009)

Ages Apart - Can You Hear Me

  1. Intro
  2. Last Time
  3. Taking Me Down
  4. I Believed
  5. Letting Go
  6. My Own Disaster
  7. Torn
  8. Lost
  9. Burden
  10. Let Someone In

Booking Ages Apart

For booking information, please contact David Adkins at 503-983-3949 or via email at dadkins@integritymusicmanagement.com.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Derek Crider: Singer and Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

Derek Crider

Derek Crider was born and raised in what he describes as the “backwoods” of southern New Jersey. While growing up Derek was introduced to a variety of musical genres. His mother listened to Elvis, Motown, and the oldies. His father exposed him to a wider range of artists including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Ronnie Milsap, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard.

In high school Derek listened primarily to 80s rock along with Metallica, Guns ‘n Roses, and country legend Garth Brooks. However, his biggest influence in country music is Toby Keith. Crider loves that Keith records great music, lots of tongue-in-cheek stuff, and doesn’t worry about what people think about him. Like Keith, Crider wants to bring something different to country music. He simply wants to hit the stage, play his music, and share his story with his fans.

With his new EP Lost & Found, Derek combines his childhood influences in southern rock with country. Derek speeds it up on tracks like “Girl Walks a Country Mile,” “Whiskey Burns,” and “Heart Hits the Ground,” he slows it down on “Sweet Emma” and “Something’s Lost,” and he makes it all right to love his brand and style of country music. If he isn’t already, Derek should be on your list as one of the top upcoming artists to watch in 2015 and 2016.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Derek Crider and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his love of songwriting and performing, his life as a career musician, his recent performance with Bret Michaels, and his latest EP Lost & Found.

Q&A Session

TCS: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?

I was around the age of 12 or 13, when I became serious about playing music. My parents listened to a lot of different types of music ranging from Motown to Country when I was growing up, however, I was always a fan of the song more than a particular artist. Some of my early musical influences include Johnny Cash, KISS, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Merle Haggard.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Derek Crider, how would you describe your musical genre?

I guess I would classify my music as Modern Country Rock. It combines elements of country, rock, and soul. I grew up in the backwoods of Southern New Jersey, and I would spend my summers in Virginia with my grandparents. I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to visit with them. The more I experienced, the more I had to write about.

Derek-Crider-Singer-Songwriter

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singer/songwriter and performer?

As mentioned before, some of my early musical influences include artists like Johnny Cash, KISS, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Merle Haggard. All of these artists and bands created great timeless songs and exhibited tremendous showmanship! I am constantly learning new things and being influenced by the places I go and the music I hear.

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your EP entitled Lost & Found. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

I’ve always been a huge fan of the song and songwriting process. In my songs, I like telling a story. That’s why I’m a big fan of Country music. It really allows you to sing about anything and doesn’t put a limit on your lyrical content like other genres of music do. For this EP, I wrote close to 50 songs, we recorded about 13, and I hand-picked the six that appear on Lost & Found. I really had a blast creating the record.

 

TCS: Can you share with us some details about your Lost & Found CD release party held at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA?

It was a short performance for friends and family only, we did it on a Tuesday night due to everyone’s schedule, Parx Casino was gracious enough to open up the 360 club for us on a night when it usually isn’t open. I hand-picked all the musicians for the gig, and the songs went over great live. We played the entire Lost & Found record along with a few unreleased songs and some covers too. It was a great night!

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of Lost & Found is the track called “Girl Walks a Country Mile,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept?

It’s really about having your first crush on a girl, hooking up, and hanging out as Toby Keith would say. LOL. The video script and concept was written and directed by Mike Greenberg. We actually met in Nashville, TN while standing in line to get BBQ at about 1 in the morning down on Broadway.

 

TCS: Is there a specific message you want your songs to convey to your fans?

The message is simple. Life is short live for today, because you never know what tomorrow might bring. Live in the moment and enjoy it. Don’t be worried about posting it to Facebook.

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite off of the EP entitled “Whiskey Burns”?

“Whiskey Burns” was written in about 5 minutes up at our studio in Germantown, Pennsylvania. I first performed the song live in Nashville in October of 2014. The song deals with heartache and the realization that the relationship is truly over, but you’re not exactly sure how to get out of the situation.

 

TCS: How thrilling was it for you to have recently performed with Bret Michaels, the lead singer from Poison, at the Levoy Theatre?

I first met Bret back in 1999 while he was on tour with Poison through a friend. We went to a lot of his gigs, and I got to get to know him a bit. I even got to sing the KISS classic “Rock N Roll All Night” on stage with them back in 2000 down in Delaware. Bret is a very personable person and really takes the time out to talk to people and meet them. I opened for Country singer Tracy Lawrence at the Levoy Theatre back in June, and they asked me to come back to open for Bret. All local openers must be approved by the headliner, and Bret gave me the green light to open. It was funny cause as soon as he walked in the theatre for sound check he started bringing up stuff that I had forgotten about. He mentioned some of the past shows I had been to, pretty amazing stuff considering how many people he meets and shows he does every year.

During his performance that night, he even asked me to come on stage and do a song with him. I suggested “Sweet Home Alabama” which he covers during his set, then he was like why don’t you close the show with me and do “Nothing But A Good Time.” There’s not too many headliners that would ask you to come up on stage and close the show with them. I thought that was very cool of him. The show was great, everyone had a blast. Bret is an amazing human being, and one of the coolest cats I’ve ever got to hang with. I am looking forward to playing at the Levoy Theatre in Millville NJ again soon. It’s an amazing venue!

TCS: Describe for us the song writing and recording process behind the single entitled “Heart Hits The Ground”?

“Heart Hits The Ground” was a song that I had floating around for a while, I cut it a few years back with another producer and was very unhappy with the final mix, so I shelved it. When I started doing this record, I knew I had to re-cut the track my way. I think my producer Andrew Owens was very skeptical about the song initially, but he did an amazing job putting the song together. I think it’s one of the best songs on the EP.

 

TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

Back in the day, we played a couple of strip clubs. Needless to say, those gigs were always very interesting.

TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

Truly, the best way to find out information about Derek Crider, upcoming appearances, and merchandise is by visiting my website at derekcrider.com.

Additionally, if you want to stay connected on social platforms, please visit the following:

Derek Crider Facebook
Derek Crider Google +
Derek Crider Instagram
Derek Crider Twitter
Derek Crider YouTube

TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

I don’t really have any particular venues in mind, I would just like to get on the road and play in as many venues as I can. As far as performers go, there’s so many. I would love to jam with The Rolling Stones, Brian May of Queen, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Bruce Spingsteen, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, gosh there are literally so many.

 

TCS: What famous song do you wish you had been credited with writing and performing?

The song “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

Edwin McCain, an amazing songwriter and very under the radar, has so many great songs. One of my favorites from him is a track called “Gramercy Park Hotel.” Another artist that I really love is Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song is a great album by him.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Derek Crider?

I have a ton of gigs booked now through the end of the year. We’re also planning another EP release in the Fall/Winter. Additionally, we want to cut a few more music videos, possibly for “Whiskey Burns” and “Friday Night Lights.” I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing some cool original music for the people that want to hear it!

Song List on Lost & Found (2015)

derek-crider-lost-and-found

  1. Girl Walks a Country Mile
  2. Friday Night Lights
  3. Whiskey Burns
  4. Sweet Emma
  5. Heart Hits the Ground
  6. Something’s Lost

Book Derek Crider

If you are interested in booking Derek Crider, please visit his website or email him at derekcridermusic@gmail.com.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Dawn Botti: Singer and Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

Dawn-Botti-New_Day_Dawn

New Day Dawn is an American rock band whose music is “anthemic…with big, bold choruses.” This is due, in part, to the band’s recent work with platinum-selling songwriter & guitarist Chris Henderson (3 Doors Down), and John Moyer (Disturbed, Adrenaline Mob) who each produced tracks on their EP release entitled Rise Above This. But this is mostly due to front lady, Dawn Botti’s belief of doing “whatever it takes” to follow one’s dreams.

Over the years, Dawn has successfully juggled a career in law with her musical passion; however, sometimes certain people haven’t been entirely supportive of her jourmey. Dawn recalls one particular boss who asked her to quit music. “My boss thought I’d never be taken seriously as a corporate executive if I was also in a band, but I just don’t believe that people are that closed minded. I have many passions and talents. Law is one of them and so is music! And in fact, I believe that I’m a better executive because of my creative side, and a better musician because of my business side!”

New Day Dawn isn’t Dawn’s first attempt at rock success either. Her previous band, Slushpuppy, received early airplay from Matt Pinfield on WXRK 92.3FM, NYC’s K-Rock, but broke up in 2003. Determined to never quit, Dawn started New Day Dawn which released their first full length album entitled The Company We Keep in 2008.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dawn Botti and asking her a few questions about her musical influences, her time in the band Slushpuppy, her life as a career musician, her work with Chris Henderson and John Moyer, and her latest EP Rise Above This.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?

Dawn Botti: Being a musician isn’t something that I “aspired” to be when I grew up, it was just something that I was, something that I am… just like being a woman. But I guess it was about at age 12 or 13 that I thought about wanting to make a living as a musician and specifically in the genre of rock. I think music itself inspired me… I loved to sing and play the piano… I loved the idea that I could create my own music and write my own songs… I discovered that when I was about 10 years old and that opened a whole new world up to me.

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TCS: For readers of The Creative Spotlight, who have never heard of your band New Dawn Day, can you please introduce us to the lineup and describe for us your musical genre?

DB: New Dawn Day is a quartet featuring two guitars, bass, and drums. We play guitar-driven rock. We are melodic alternative hard rock along the lines of bands such as Shinedown, Otherwise, and 3 Doors Down, but with a female lead voice. Because of the female voice we are more often compared to other female fronted rock bands like Halestorm or The Pretty Reckless.

The band is comprised of:

  • Dawn Botti (Lead Vocal / Guitar)
  • Gary Szczecina (Drummer / Backing Vocals)
  • PJ Angeloni (Lead Guitar)
  • Elo Hernandez (Bass Guitar)

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands are among your early influences and how do you think they shaped your music style and song writing?

DB: I grew up in New Jersey and while I wasn’t more than 60 miles from Manhattan, I lived in a pretty rural community – as such I had no idea about local clubs or independent music – I only listened to whatever was on Top 40 radio or what my parents listened to and they were huge fans of Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons, the Moody Blues, and bands like Supertramp! Luckily Top 40 radio was filled with great rock back then like The Police, Led Zeppelin and female trail blazers like Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, Heart, and even Madonna. I think they helped shape my music because I was always a “melody” junkie. I am a sucker for a great catchy “hook”. I strive to have that in my songs and also to have big soaring choruses.

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TCS: In what ways did your first attempt at rock success with the band Slushpuppy help prepare you for New Dawn Day from a singer/songwriter and musical perspective?

DB: In a lot of ways New Day Dawn just took over where Slushpuppy left off. In both bands I was a major part of the song writing. In Slushpuppy, I co-wrote with our guitar player and I sometimes miss those collaborations – but I learned a lot from him and he had an entirely different style of influences (bands like RadioHead, Catherine Wheel, and Portishead) which helped expand my own style. Also with Slushpuppy we often played with bands that were “heavier” than us in terms of musical style – that was intimidating – especially because I was also a woman who felt like she was being sized up against all these bands made up only of guys. We always strived to be “heavier” to help bridge that gap. I think with New Day Dawn, I am now older and wiser and with that has come more confidence, and now I just play the type of music I like. Sometimes the songs comes out heavy….but sometimes they are more “pop” in their melody or style and I no longer feel the need to apologize for that!


TCS: How thrilling was it for New Dawn Day to have performed at a number of major music festivals including South By Southwest and the Millennium Music Conference?

DB: The festivals are always fun. First, you get to go expose your music to an entirely new audience in a new area like Texas! But secondly because you get an opportunity to hang out and listen all these other amazing bands. I am CONSTANTLY amazed at the number of really really talented musicians out there. Seriously, the world has a bunch of jokes about how there are two many lawyers in the world – in reality I think there are too many talented musicians in the world and not enough “ears” to go around to hear all of them. I guess that is why I am always so so so thankful when we make new fans. I recognize that every person has an almost infinite amount of choices out there in terms of music so I am always so honored and thankful when someone choses to spend their time and hard earned money on mine!

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite New Dawn Day songs off of your 2013 EP release entitled Rise Above This is the track called “You Are My Everything” so can you share with us the meaning behind it as well as the music video?

DB: I wrote “You Are My Everything” for my husband (and drummer), Gary. We have been married for over 20 years (yes, you read that right!). We started dating when I was 15 years old, and were high school sweethearts. Gary has always been my biggest supporter. It’s truly one of those “wind beneath my wings” type of stories. I always gravitate to the spotlight and Gary has been content to stay in the shadows to a certain degree…..poor guy even sits physically behind me during our shows (since he is on the drums) and often times I end up “blocking” him in photos when people take pictures of the band on stage. Anyway, he so deserved this song. He truly is my everything and I don’t think I ever tell him enough.


As for the music video – I wanted a video that told the “age old” story of “boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, get married, have kids, etc…” but I didn’t want it told in a way that seemed obvious or trite. We decided to tell the story using only feet (and no faces) to represent the fact that this is a universal story of many couples and it doesn’t matter what “face” you put on the couple – doesn’t matter race, gender, etc. This could be ANY couple. Second, we wanted to convey that mature love is so much more than just romance and sex. True love has to endure the doldrums of the everyday chores, and the stress of just living life. There will be fights – over money, over taking care of children, maybe more horrendous things like addiction, infidelity, life-threatening illnesses, taking care of elderly or dying parents. This is what real life is about and this is what true love can endure, but it’s not easy and certainly not all unicorns and rainbows.

TCS: What’s the most unusual place that New Dawn Day has played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

DB: I can’t really think of an “unusual” place … but certainly the circumstances around a performance will effect the performance. We once played in Maryland where we got to play a song that I wrote for a dear friend / fan of ours. She is struggling with cancer and the song is called “Rise”. The lyrics are very personal and taken from all of her facebook posts from the past year. So to be able to perform it for her in person and see the look on her face was quite an honor and definitely puts you in a special mind set where you feel like the music has taken on a life of its own and is truly transcending.

TCS: Describe for us what it was like working with platinum-selling songwriter/guitarist Chris Henderson (3 Doors Down) on “Lay Your Head” and John Moyer (Disturbed, Adrenaline Mob) who each produced tracks on Rise Above This.

DB: It was truly amazing and eye opening to work with both Chris and John. They have each achieved so much success in the music industry and so I had great respect for both of them just going into the project. And having each of them interested and excited to work with me on my songs and with the band was also a great honor and in many ways made me feel like I had achieved something really special because musicians / songwriters that I had always looked up to now wanted to work with me. But the best part was once I got over my initial nerves and started to get to know each of them better…the celebrity part fell away and then it was just “chris and dawn” or “john and dawn” as friends and fellow musicians working on some music together and that is when the magic started to really happen with each of them. Chris and John have very different styles and different strengths as producers, but what they both share is an extremely strong work ethic and a total immersive passion for creating music.


TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does New Dawn Day use?

DB: My go-to guitar is my Schechter Temptest. It’s very reliable and sounds and looks great. I have other more expensive guitars but prefer my Schechter. Gary plays a DW drum set. Elo loves his B.C. Rich bass. PJ plays a bunch of different guitars, but mostly his Gibson Les Paul and Fender Telecaster through his VOX. We don’t use samples or computer tracks, nothing fancy

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite track off of Rise Above This called “Whatever It Takes”?

DB: “Whatever It Takes” is really a song about “searching for the deeper meaning of life” – It’s about recognizing that we are each here for a purpose and in truly believing that we are so much more than our lives here on earth and that we need to be willing to do “Whatever It Takes” to live a life with purpose….and when you reach that point that you realize that you are living your life for a greater purpose than the day-to-day it is both scary and exciting… that is what the line “Can you feel my heart pounding in my chest, Whatever It Takes, Whatever It Takes, Whatever It Takes…”


TCS: Share with us what happened in June of 2012, which caused you to stop leading a double life as a senior corporate executive by day and a rock musician by night?

DB: I think here in the U.S. we really suffer from a culture limitation of believing that a person can only truly be “exceptional” at one thing. We believe that you can be relatively good at a bunch of things…but if you are truly exception and talented at one thing chances are that is your “gift” and the other things you do probably you’ll only perform somewhat good at. I am a person that not only does NOT believe that , but I defy it everyday. Yes, I am a lawyer and a damn good one. I graduated the top of my class from one of the top 3 law schools in the country…I trained at one of the best law firms in the world and for many years I was very very successful and very good as an in-house entertainment attorney at a very large media company. Out of fear I kept my music life under wraps. I didn’t want my employer to think that I was not committed to my career. On the flip side, I never told my music friends/ fans what I did during the day — inevitably if someone heard I was lawyer before hearing / seeing me perform that would instantly write me off as probably not being that good. How could I be an exceptional musician when I was already a successful attorney – surely I couldn’t be great at two things? Fortunately or unfortunately social media blew the “cover” off my “double life” – On Facebook and MySpace, I looked like a dedicated, full-time musical artist which didn’t make my employer very comfortable (notwithstanding the fact that my work continued to be stellar and in reality nothing at all had changed from the way I had been living my life for over a decade…….but what changed was the PERCEPTION…and as they say perception is 99% of reality. To this day, I continue to be both a dedicated and exceptional attorney as well as a musician. I think each facet helps make me better at the other…I am more creative in my approach to law than most…and I am more business minded than many other musicians…. I truly believe that we only “go around” this earth once, we have one life to live – so why should we limit ourselves in only trying to be excellent in one thing? If you have the dedication and drive and desire to try something else….TRY IT! DO IT!! And don’t let anyone stop you.

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TCS: How do you market New Dawn Day songs, merchandise, and appearances?

DB: I market New Dawn Day however and whenever I can. I have tried to really make my focus about a personal connection with my fans…they are more like my friends than fans. Most of what I have done has been completely organically. I have not yet really tried any professional marketing.

Stay connected with New Dawn Day at the following:

TCS: Was “Misunderstood” from your full-length release entitled The Company We Keep written after a real-life experience?

DB: “Misunderstood” is another favorite and yes – it is auto-biographical… This song was written about one of my former band mates. He was the bass player for SLUSHPUPPY and we used to fight like cats and dogs. It was actually quite exhausting and I always felt like there was a fundamental gap in our communication – almost like we were literally speaking two different languages. We would always both start off with the best of intentions and we truly loved each other as friends and I believe we both WANTED to get along….but sometimes even the simplest conversations…like talking about the weather forecast would turn into the biggest fights. Much of the reason why SLUSHPUPPY broke up was because of the miscommunications and fights between us and so this song was written in reflection after that time.


TCS: Any upcoming shows for New Dawn Day that we should know about and why we should be there?

DB: You should ALWAYS be at an NDD show! Ha ha… no really, since we are not a full time touring band, it takes a lot for us to get out of New Jersey…… so if we are in your area, wherever that may be please try to come see us since we don’t really know when we may be back to that market. We have a show June 5th in Hagerstown, MD with our friends in Saving Abel…then on June 11th we travel to Rhode Island to play with Art of Dying and Another Lost Year. We really try to play shows with other bands that we like both as people and in terms of their music… our hope is that if we like them then hopefully our fans will like them too which means that you won’t just enjoy the 1hr you get to see NDD on stage, but the entire lineup and night of music.

TCS: Now as a career musician, can you describe for us a day in the life of Dawn Botti?

DB: I think more and more you’ll find that the smart “career” musicians are the ones that understand that you need to diversify and have multiple skills. Unfortunately for most of us, gone are the days when you can really make a decent living by simply touring and selling your music (especially as so few people are actually purchasing music these days.) We all see the articles on music streaming services like Spotify, they are paying musicians and songwriters a mere fraction what they were otherwise making off of traditional album sales. I speak with musicians every day that tour 200+ shows a year and still can’t afford to pay their mortgage or provide for their families – so unless you are in your 20’s and have no other financial commitments and are content living hand to mouth and sleeping mostly in a van….then you’ll need to figure out how to supplement your musicians’ salary. Luckily for me I still practice law. I have been able to assist fellow musicians and record labels with legal services, as well as small independent film companies. I also very much believe that I can easily handle a full-time corporate job if it was the right company that understood the importance of work/life balance…and the value of taking on non-traditional type of lawyers that are creative, not risk-adverse and who understand how to build and manage a brand and social media marketing (since I do it for the band!) I also have some television projects in the works and have been exploring some projects with other more famous “rock” celebrities. On the music side of things, I try to spend a part of each day doing something creative – writing new melodies or lyrics…. Working on a new t-shirt design or something else. I also spend a good part of the day talking to fans on social media or writing back to fans…and of course I’m always looking for new gigging opportunities and other opportunities to get my music out there whether that be via radio, internet radio, or interviews like this one. Yes, it is exhausting and A LOT of work — but I wouldn’t change a thing!

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TCS: As a collective group, the band, what has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced to date, and do you think it made you stronger as performers?

DB: I think our toughest challenge was driving across country to Oklahoma in a span of 3 days to perform as part of the ROCKLAHOMA rock festival. Silly me thought we could drive for 10 hours and then perform each night in the city we landed. Having never really driven such long distances, I hadn’t accounted for things like traffic and bathroom breaks…so our 10 hours drives usually turned into 14-15 hour drives… We have to hit the road by 6am…. Drive 14 hrs … to land in say “St. Louis” by 8pm ….rush to unload gear and perform by 10pm….then hang out with fans, pack up and get back on the road by 1am… to just do it all over again the next day…. We did that for 3 days and THEN played ROCKLAHOMA.

TCS: If New Dawn Day could open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be and why?

DB: We have actually been picking the bands that we would “love” to open for and going after those shows…. We have already accomplished many goals like opening for Saving Abel, Saliva, Puddle of Mudd, Otherwise and Art Of Dying. My goal is to always pair with other hard rock bands that have a strong focus on melody and all these bands fit the bill. It’s great to perform a set and then get to hang out in the audience as a “fan” and watch the headliners! Three bands that I would KILL to open for are Shinedown, Foo Fighters, and U2…. Maybe even Bon Jovi! These are all bands who are much more established and play big arenas as opposed to the level we are on now. They have all influenced my music and I am a genuine fan of their music, so I would hope that their fans would enjoy us.

TCS: What is the best compliment you’ve ever received about New Dawn Day’s music? And, what makes it stand out so much?

DB: The best compliment is when I hear that one of my songs has a deep personal connection and meaning to a fan…. Especially if it has helped that person through something…. This is better than any pay check in the world…. When you know you have created something that was personal to you and it has now taken on a life of its own and is personal and meaningful to someone else. That is really what life is all about and what keeps me going in this business.

TCS: What does the short-term and long-term future hold for Dawn Botti and New Dawn Day?

DB: I truly do not know. I will keep playing, writing, and performing music until it is no longer “fun” and feels too much like drudgery or work. For now it is definitely a lot of hard work and a real commitment but I love every minute of it so it doesn’t feel like an obligation but a blessing. I try to pray and listen to what God wants me to do. I believe my musical talents are a gift from “him” and that he has a plan for how he wants me to use them to help and touch other people…. So for now, I keep going and I keep praying that he shows me the way. Now I don’t want everyone to turn around and say “New Day Dawn” is a Christian rock band…. We aren’t …. But Dawn Botti is a spiritually guided person and I try to incorporate God into every aspect of whatever I taken on.

TCS: What do you think the world would be like if music was never invented? And, what do you think you would you be doing instead?

DB: So long as humans have hearts and ears there will be music…. I can’t imagine a world without music, because music is in the chirping of the birds, it is in the water flowing through a stream, it is in the sound of your heart beating or a baby crying. If I had no musical talent? Maybe I would be a painter…..oh, and a lawyer 

Song List on Rise Above This (2013)

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  1. You Are My Everything
  2. Lay Your Head
  3. Life Impossible
  4. Whatever It Takes
  5. Runaway

Song List on The Company We Keep (2009)

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  1. Misunderstood
  2. Nowhere Fast
  3. Follow
  4. Daddy’s Song
  5. See Me Fall
  6. Prelude to Crazy
  7. Over You
  8. We Are
  9. Paralyzed
  10. Misunderstood (’91 Time Machine Remix)

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Neill Byrnes: Draw The Line Aerosmith Tribute Band

Written by: Frank Iacono

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Draw The Line, the Aerosmith Tribute Band, hails from the city that boasts the Red Sox, the New England Patriots, and the Celtics as well as musical groups such as Boston, The Cars, Godsmack, and of course Aerosmith. With over 2,000 performances in over 100 cities Draw The Line, together as an Aersomith tribute band for more than twenty years, has performed in all but two U.S. states including shows in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other U.S. territories. Additionally, they’ve also toured other countries such as England, Canada, South America, and Japan.

In January of 1998, during an interview, legendary Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler singled out Draw The Line as the best of the Aerosmith tribute bands. On Boston’s biggest rock radio station 104.1 WBCN, disc jockey Nick Carter was quoted as saying, “I’ve seen Draw The Line! They ARE Aerosmith!” The band is very popular on the college circuit and has been interviewed by several Boston-based college radio stations over the years including Brandeis University’s 100.1 WBRS. Equally, Draw The Line has also appeared in several Boston area newspapers such as The Patriot Ledger, The Boston Globe, and The Mariner.

Draw The Line is the only tribute band who has been featured on the Official Aerosmith Website as well as that of Aerosmith’s Official Fan Club. With support and accolades from Aerosmith themselves, as well as top DJs, journalists, and fans worldwide, it’s no wonder that they’ve been recognized as a one-of-a-kind. If you love Aerosmith, then the Draw The Line tribute show is one you truly don’t want to miss!

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Neill Byrnes from Draw The Line an Aerosmith tribute band and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his career in a tribute band, their set list, and their past and upcoming performances.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Can you introduce us to the Draw The Line lineup and tell us how you decided on the band name?

The Draw The Line band lineup consists of:

  • Neill Byrnes – Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Percussion (Steven Tyler)
  • Gino Caira – Lead Guitar (Joe Perry)
  • Jim Dennis – Lead Guitar (Brad Whitford)
  • Phil Cefalo – Drums (Joey Kramer)
  • Justin Hunt – Bass Guitar (Tom Hamilton)

Back in 1991, at the request of an agency that just picked us up, we changed the band name from Mass Production to one more Aerosmith recognizable. So after long discussions we decided on Draw The Line. We felt that the caricature on the front of that album cover was one of the bands most iconic images, and we could represent ourselves in a very similar fashion. This would be unmistakably recognizable to Aerosmith.

Draw-The-Line-Performance

TCS: So how long has Draw The Line been playing together and how did you get started?

As mentioned, I originally joined a band called Mass Production. It was a semi-Aerosmith tribute, but not serious. about two months after I joined, we decided to go full on Aerosmith tribute and change the name to Draw The Line. That was back in August of 1991. Here we are 24 years later.

 

TCS: At what age did you become interested in music? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career as a musician?

My first influences in music were from my parents. They were from the big band era. They were into artists like Tommy Dorsey, Lawrence Welk, Sinatra, and Slim Whitman. It was the Lawrence Welk Show that turned me on to my first instrument; the trombone. I was exposed to rock and roll through friends and cousins. The Beatles, KISS, Rolling Stones, The Who, and etc. Great 60s and 70s bands. I was probably 8 when I started on the trombone. After being exposed to great theatrical rock bands and the response from the audience these people were getting. I knew that was what I wanted to do.

TCS: Early on Neill did you think that you looked, sounded, or moved like the legendary Steven Tyler or was it something that you discovered over time?

My friends used to tease me on how much I looked like Steven Tyler, but I just shook it off not really paying attention to it. It wasn’t until the same friends convinced me to enter a local Boston area Radio Station (WAAF) sponsored Steven Tyler lookalike contest that I paid attention to it. After winning the contest, the notoriety from it made it impossible to dismiss. It wouldn’t be until a year later that I set on the journey of transforming into him. I studied from a vocal coach that he studied with, worked out constantly, studied hours of video tape, took aerobics classes, gymnastics classes, piano classes, and I worked my butt off in order to be able to do this at the level at which I thought I needed to be at.

 

TCS: Let’s talk about the music for a moment. When you’re in a tribute band, obviously your music will be picked apart and compared to the original. So how did Draw The Line sculpt its sound and its stage performance?

Well when we started, I made sure that we were going to go all the way with it or not even bother. Meaning the look, sound, and mannerisms had to copied to a tee. Each band member had to dedicate themselves to this level of excellence. They had to do an in depth character study. Those that didn’t, ended up being replaced. We wanted to be the best.

TCS: What do you guys feel is the hardest aspect of re-creating an Aerosmith show?

The hardest part is the attitude and the energy. Being from the same stomping grounds of Aerosmith gives us a similar vibe. We naturally have the same sort of environmental factors that have shaped out personalities. Therefore in some respects, as performers, we come from the same place. Other Aerosmith tributes from other areas do not conjure the same energy. We are authentic being from Boston. Musically, Aerosmith is a tough act to follow. We have dedicated our selves to learning this material to the highest level.

 

TCS: How many gigs does Draw The Line play annually and what and where are some of the venues in which you’ve performed?

Draw The Line plays anywhere from 75-100 gigs a year. We have traveled all over America, Canada, Central America, parts of Europe, and all over the Caribbean. Most of our gigs these days are festivals, casinos, cruise ships, corporate, and private events. We still do a few clubs here and there locally in Massachusetts to ensure that our original fans can still see us often.

TCS: If Draw The Line could perform in any venue in the world right now, national or international, where would that be and why?

It would be one of the legendary venues or festivals like Knebworth, Isle of Wight, Donnington. Just to be on the same stage as some of the greats is a tremendous feeling. The Whiskey in LA is one of those places. I could feel legendary Jim Morrison from The Doors when performing on that stage.

Neill-Byrnes-Draw-The-Line-Performing

TCS: Tell us about how special it was to participate in the Aerosmith Legacy Show, hosted by Ray Tabano the original Aerosmith guitarist?

The legacy show was a culmination of what we have been trying to do from the beginning. Make what we do, a big produced show. Our manager Tricia Byrnes, also my wife, and I drew up the ideas and plans to create this. A show that was a retrospective of Aerosmith’s career. With video, costumes, etc… With Raymond being an old friend we thought what better way to do this, than having an original member tell the story. Someone who was there, on the inside. He came aboard and the show was set. One of the coolest things with Ray, besides the true stories, was playing Train Kept A Rollin’ with him. That is a song that Aerosmith took and made their own. He was part of that. After playing with him, you could clearly see his influence in the early sound of Aerosmith. An epiphany of sorts for us.

Draw-The-Line-Legacy-Show

TCS: Share with us the most requested Aerosmith songs at a typical Draw The Line show?

Making the set list is the hardest part of the show! So many great songs. The catalog is so extensive. We always make our set based on our audience. We do a little demographic research to see which albums did best where. There are certain songs in the show every night. Dream On, Sweet Emotion, Walk This Way, etc.. We try to add a few deep cuts for the diehards. One song that gets requested more than any other is Seasons of Whither. It’s not one of their biggest hits so it doesn’t get in the show every night.

Below, please find an example of a recent set list where we were able to do a lot of deep cuts:

Draw-The-Line-Set-List

TCS: Of the songs that Draw The Line plays from Aerosmith’s extensive library which ones are your most and least favorite? Equally, is there a song from Aerosmith that you guys really love that is not currently included in your set list? If yes, then why.

There are certain songs like Back in the Saddle, One Way Street, Pandora’s Box, and Seasons of Whither that are group favorites. We may not like all the songs before we learn them. But to a man I can honestly say that after learning a song, we come to like it very much. There isn’t a song that we don’t like. Even the ballads. Lol! A song we haven’t done yet… That we would love to do…. would either be Cheesecake or Spaced. They are very obscure but great songs. It’s just a matter of time before we get to them.

TCS: What would you say has been the toughest challenge Draw The Line has faced to date, and do you think it made you stronger as musicians and performers?

I think the toughest challenge was in the beginning. When we first started, we weren’t that good. We really had to face the criticism and It was very difficult. This is a very difficult band to emulate. But we kept at it and we knew that if we just worked hard we would get there, but it wasn’t easy.

TCS: Tell us about how proud Draw The Line was to be named one of The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands Awardee?

Beside being recognized by Aerosmith as the best, this was our crowning moment so far. To be recognized as the greatest at anything is very humbling. It was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. It was just such an honor. And what a privilege to showcase the band on live TV!! Just an amazing experience. We really couldn’t be more proud. Thanks to all the Aerosmith / DTL FANS THAT MADE THAT HAPPEN!

 

TCS: How do you market Draw The Line songs, merchandise, and appearances?

I let management handle all that! I do post on Twitter and Facebook. Any one can always approach us at the shows. We love to meet people.

TCS: Has anyone in Draw The Line met any of the members of Aerosmith?

Yes we have a professional relationship with the band. Steven came to our show at the whiskey on AXS TV. Brad was at our gig for NASCAR. Joey played a gig with us. Aerosmith has been really supportive of us over the years. Steven has gone so far as to publicly endorse the band and allow us to use that in our promotion. We are licensed to sell their merchandise as well. They have really been unbelievable.

TCS: Have you played with any other Aerosmith tribute bands and if so what type of reaction have you received?

I was invited over to England once to sing with an English Aerosmith tribute band for a couple of gigs. The response was fantastic it was a great experience

 

TCS: Besides Draw The Line, if you could individually play a set with any artist alive or dead who would you choose and why?

I think it would be either The Doors or Led Zeppelin. Jimi Hendrix a close third. The late 60s and early 70s was just a time that was magical. All this creative music was coming out and blazing the trail for everyone to follow. It would have been amazing to have witnessed that.

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Draw The Line?

We have never been busier. I thank my lucky stars every day that I am able to make a living playing music. I am truly a blessed person. There’s no reason why Draw The Line cannot continue into the far future. As long as we have our health and they’re still callin’ we’ll be there to rock your world!

Booking Inquiries

Fine Productions
Tricia Byrnes
P.O. Box 586
Accord, MA 02018
Phone: 617-438-9884
Email: Tricia@FineProductions.com
Website: www.FineProductions.com

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Peter Beckett: Singer and Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

peter-beckett-header-image

In 1974, legendary singer/songwriter/musician Peter Beckett, a Liverpool, England native, came to America to join an international group of writer/musicians called Skyband and recorded an album for RCA Records. Unfortunately Skyband was short-lived, but during a glitzy Hollywood party he met singer/guitarist J.C. Crowley. A short time later, Peter formed Player along with Crowley, bassist Ronn Moss, and drummer John Friesen.

In 1978, Player struck gold with the chart-topping, feel-good smash hit co-written by Beckett and Crowley entitled “Baby Come Back.” The song was Player’s biggest single, hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 10 on the soul charts. With the success of “Baby Come Back,” the self-titled debut album went platinum and the band toured extensively. When Player slowed down in the 1980s Beckett focused on film and TV projects while his bandmate Moss gained stardom playing Ridge Forrester on the CBS soap opera series The Bold And The Beautiful.

Between the years 1989-1997, Peter was a featured member of The Little River Band and has written several singles for them. Beckett and Moss reunited in 1997 and completed the fifth Player album entitled Lost In Reality. Then in 1999, they began performing again as Player, usually with all-star lineups of musicians that included members of Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, The Cars, Mister Mister and Little River Band. Now, after an almost 20-year hiatus, Player is back with a new album released in 2013 entitled Too Many Reasons. The album, which features 12 new tracks and a new acoustic version of “Baby Come Back,” was written and produced by Peter.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Beckett and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his early career in the band Player, his songwriting career, his more memorable performances, and the new Player CD Too Many Reasons.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Growing up in Liverpool, England when did you realize music was something you wanted to pursue? And, were there any specific bands that highly influenced your decision?

My brother sneaked me into The Cavern Club in Liverpool when I was about 16 and I got to see The Beatles play live. It was so loud and atmospheric that from that moment I was hooked. One of my favorite bands was The Escorts. I loved their Everly Brothers style harmonies and used to go see them a lot.

TCS: Tell us about when Player showcased “Baby Come Back,” a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977, for legendary American record producer and music industry executive Clive Davis and describe how that meeting played itself out?

John Charles Crowley (vocals, keyboards, guitar) and Ronn Moss (bass, vocals) and I were set up to play a handful of songs for Clive at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the ballroom. There was just him sitting out there. We were on the stage playing acoustically. We did about three songs including “Baby Come Back”. Afterwards he took us to his suite, and after telling us that he didn’t hear a hit, he started playing us a bunch of records that he thought were hits. We were deflated. He was very polite, but also wrong (for once).

TCS: Since then “Baby Come Back” has been featured in many TV commercials, more recently to sell Swiffer Sweeper Vac and Swiffer WetJet, so how do you think that either helps or hurts Player?

At this stage of the game and the way the music business has changed, I don’t think anything can hurt. It’s all airplay and gets the song in people’s faces again.

TCS: When you were working on Player’s second album, entitled The Danger Zone, your record company asked you to tour with guitar great Eric Clapton. Can you tell us all about that experience?

I had performed with Clapton several times in England before during the John Mayall and eventually “Cream” days. We knew when we got the news that we would have to toughen up our sound somewhat to do the “Slowhand” tour. This led to the harder edged 1978 album entitled Danger Zone. This came naturally to me as I had played in some harder rock bands in England. I was asked to play with Uriah Heep at one stage but turned it down to stay in Los Angeles as I would have had to move back to London. The “Slowhand” tour was a classic and a great memory.

TCS: Can you introduce us to the current Player band lineup?

  • Peter Beckett: Vocals and Guitar
  • Ronn Moss: Bass and Vocals
  • Rob Math: Lead Guitar and Vocals
  • Jawn Starr: Keyboards
  • Jimmy Carnelli: Drummer (not shown in pic below)

TCS: What do you enjoy most about performing with Player? And, how would say Player differentiates itself from similar bands within the same genre?

We play with a lot of our contemporaries still, and one thing that’s different is we actually have some original members. Lots of name bands out touring these days have no originals. It’s crazy. Over the years we have developed a nice mix of R&B and rock in our stage show that keeps things fun and fresh.

TCS: Over the years, are there any specific Player performances that are particularly memorable for you?

I remember playing in Chicago on the Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees tour. We had been touring for a while as our single was going up the Billboard charts. We walked out on stage and the audience reception was much, much bigger than usual. We found out later that the record had hit number one and a lot more people knew who we were.

TCS: What are among some of the strangest venues or gigs you’ve ever played and how did it affect the overall performance?

I did a “theater in the round” one time, and what was supposed to happen was the band would start playing facing the backstage area, By the time we started singing, the stage should have turned and we should have been facing the audience. The stage never turned and we did the whole first song facing backstage. The roadies were in hysterics but they applauded at the end. Then the stage turned and things were back to normal.

TCS: Can you provide us with some background about the acoustic song “I Will” that appears on your 2013 release entitled Too Many Reasons?

I wrote that song with Steve Plunkett a few years back and it seemed to fit alongside the other songs that were chosen for the CD. It was meant to have a kind of Dave Matthews vibe.

TCS: During your career, you’ve done a fair amount of songwriting and a great deal of session work for other artists so can you share with us some of that work?

I can barely remember all of them these days, but off the top of my head I have written songs for:

  • Kenny Rogers
  • Heart
  • Olivia Newton John
  • Survivor
  • Sergio Mendes
  • The Temptations
  • Commodores
  • Janet Jackson
  • Poco
  • Little River Band
  • and many others…including Grace Slick and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead

Some movie credits include:

  • Major League
  • The Karate Kid
  • Terminator 3
  • Dirty Dancing 2
  • Rock Star
  • Basic
  • St Elmo’s Fire (Grammy Nomination)
  • Frankie and Johnny
  • Transformers

TCS: What do the short and long term plans hold for you and Player?

I am still working on my book, Player has the new CD out entitled Too Many Reasons, we have been doing some TV including General Hospital (see video below), and a big TV show dedicated to Smokey Robinson. Additionally, Player has a big tour of Australia planned in November/December of 2014. My country band “The Limey Cowboy” will be playing live next year after I finish up the CD and get another number one.

Stay Connected

To listen to great music, check out exciting videos, discover historic pictures, and receive the latest updates about Peter and the band Player, please visit:

Song List on Too Many Reasons (2013)

Too Many Reasons - Player

  1. “Man On Fire”
  2. “Precious”
  3. “I Will”
  4. “Tell Me”
  5. “The Sins of Yesterday”
  6. “You’re My Addiction”
  7. “Too Many Reasons”
  8. “To the Extreme”
  9. “The Words You Say”
  10. “Life in Color”
  11. “A Part of Me”
  12. “Kites”
  13. “Nothin’ Like You”
  14. “Baby Come Back”

Song List on Lost In Reality (1996)

Lost-In-Reality-Player

  1. “This Is Your Life”
  2. “Without You”
  3. “Footprints In The Sand”
  4. “Something Good”
  5. “After All This Time”
  6. “Baby Come Back”
  7. “Cherry Lane”
  8. “Stand By Me”
  9. “No More Rain”
  10. “Sometimes You Got To Let Go”
  11. “Beautiful Love”
  12. “Just To Be With You”

Song List on Electric Shadow (1995)

Electric-Shadow-Player

  1. “This Is Your Life”
  2. “Without You”
  3. “Footprints in the Sand”
  4. “Something Good”
  5. “Stand by You”
  6. “No More Rain”
  7. “Every Time I Turn Around”
  8. “After All This time”
  9. “Just to Be with You”
  10. “Beautiful Love”
  11. “Baby Come Back”

Song List on Beckett (1991)

Peter-Beckett-CD

  1. “I Told You So”
  2. “My Religion”
  3. “Brother Louie”
  4. “Hangin’ By A Thread”
  5. “The Big Hurt”
  6. “How Can The Girl Refuse”
  7. “Not A Day Goes By”
  8. “The Bottom Line”
  9. “Still Of The Night”
  10. “Falling From Grace”

Song List on Spies Of Life (1982)

Spies-of-Life-Player

  1. “If Looks Could Kill”
  2. “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid”
  3. “Thank You For The Use Of Your Love”
  4. “It Only Hurts When I Breathe”
  5. “My Mind’s Made Up”
  6. “I’d Rather Be Gone”
  7. “Take Me Back”
  8. “My Survival”
  9. “Born To Be With You”
  10. “In Like Flynn”

Song List on Room With A View (1980)

Room-With-A-View-Player

  1. “Room With A View”
  2. “It’s For You”
  3. “Upside Down”
  4. “Who Do You Think You Are”
  5. “Bad News Travels Fast”
  6. “All Tied Up”
  7. “Givin’ It All”
  8. “It May Never Happen”
  9. “Tip Of The Iceberg”

Song List on Danger Zone (1978)

Peter-Beckett-CD

  1. “Love In The Danger Zone”
  2. “Silver Lining”
  3. “I Just Want To Be With You”
  4. “Forever”
  5. “I’ve Been Thinking”
  6. “Prisoner Of Your Love”
  7. “Join In The Dance”
  8. “Wait Until Tomorrow”
  9. “Let Me Down Easy”

Song List on Player (1977)

Player-Album

  1. “Come On Out”
  2. “Baby Come Back”
  3. “Goodbye (That’s All I Ever Heard)”
  4. “Melanie”
  5. “Every Which Way”
  6. “This Time I’m In It for Love”
  7. “Love Is Where You Find It”
  8. “Movin’ Up”
  9. “Cancellation”
  10. “Trying To Write a Hit Song”

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.